Q:

What color does magnesium burn?

A:

Quick Answer

Magnesium metal burns bright white. The bright white light from magnesium contains ultraviolet light that can cause permanent eye damage, so the combustion should not be viewed directly.

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Full Answer

In chemistry a flame test, in which materials are set on fire, is sometimes used to determine the presence of certain elements. When the material is heated sufficiently, a reaction causes electrons to jump from their ground state to a higher electron orbital. When cooled sufficiently, electrons return to a ground state and release energy in the form of light. The light released varies in wavelength based on the material contained in the sample and can then be compared to known results. The flame test is considered qualitative since it does not give any data about the exact proportions of elements and does not identify elements that do not produce a flame.

Magnesium is highly flammable and difficult to put out with regular extinguishers, so proper supervision and safety equipment must be worn at all times while magnesium is burning. Magnesium and its alloys can reach 3,100 degrees Celsius. Pure magnesium metal is not found naturally on earth due to its high reactivity. Magnesium plays a vital role in human biology cell growth and in plant growth, specifically in chlorophyll.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is chelated magnesium?

    A:

    Chelated magnesium is a medicine that is also known as magnesium amino acids chelate. It is often prescribed to supplement deficiencies of the mineral magnesium and sometimes to treat other medical problems. Sufficient magnesium is essential for healthy muscles and nerves and many other body systems.

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  • Q:

    What is magnesium used in?

    A:

    According to the Royal Society of Chemistry, magnesium is used in flares, pyrotechnics and incendiary bombs, and it was previously used in flash bulbs. Because it has a lower density than aluminum, its alloys are used in airplanes, missiles, bicycle frames, car seats and luggage.

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  • Q:

    How does magnesium react with oxygen?

    A:

    Magnesium has a very energetic combustion reaction with oxygen, where two atoms of magnesium bond with one molecule of oxygen gas to form two molecules of magnesium oxide. This reaction is extremely exothermic, releasing a great deal of heat and light, which is why magnesium fuses are used to initiate reactions such as the thermite reaction, and magnesium is used in flares for high visibility. The reaction of magnesium to oxygen is so energetically favorable that burning magnesium can steal the oxygen from both water and carbon dioxide, making these common methods of dousing flames ineffective to stop magnesium combustion.

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  • Q:

    What are the uses of magnesium nitrate?

    A:

    One of the major uses of magnesium nitrate is in pyrotechnics. This compound is known as a form of hygroscopic salt.

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