Magnesium Flame Test
Name: Karen M.
Date: 2001 - 2002
Why is it that when magnesium is tested as a flame test
it is colourless not bright white?
For an element to have a characteristic color in a flame test, it must have
an exited electronic state that emits radiation in the visible part of the
electromagnetic spectrum -- between about 400 and 700 nanometers. Magnesium
does not have an excited electronic state corresponding to these
wavelengths, so it emits no visible radiation. If it emitted visible light
equally across this wavelength range it would appear white. I don't know of
any element for which that is the case. Most elements emit a narrow band of
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Update: June 2012