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Why is the potassium flame color masked by sodium?

The emission of sodium is so intense that it obscures the color of most other metal ions in a flame test. Special glasses, used by glass blowers, are available to absorb the intense yellow sodium emission and permit the less intense emissions of other metal ions to be observed. This is almost always necessary because sodium ions are present in most substances, as an impurity, to interfere with other emissions.

Vince Calder

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