Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Electrons in a Flame
Name: Trista
Status: educator
Age: 30s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000

What happens to the electrons when a substance is vaporized in a flame?

Ms. Lindstone,

As you know, in chemical reactions matter can be neither created or destroyed. When a substance is "vaporized in a flame" it doesn't disappear. Thermally excited electrons are simply raised to higher energy levels from which they fall back when the excitation potential is removed. Some such electron transitions are responsible for the fire-works like colors emitted when compounds containing sodium, potassium, strontium, barium, lithium, copper, etc. are heated in a burner flame.


Click here to return to the Chemistry Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory