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Status: student
Grade: 9-12
Location: N/A
Date:September 2007

Hi, I was just wondering what colors of flames gold and silver would take in the flame test, or if they have a colored flame at all.

Hi Stephanie, good question!

I was unable to answer this question on my own, but I did speak with a colleague who is an analytical chemist in my department. The short answer seems to be that Bunsen burners do not have a hot enough flame to excite silver or gold.

In his words: "Flame tests are used to identify the presence of a relatively small number of metal ions in a compound because of spectral interferences and also not all metal ions give flame colors...the flame temperatures may not be high enough to excite them or the ?E may be so large that the emitted radiation is in the ultraviolet region."

He did a little checking and found that "both gold and silver have spectra in the visible region but need more energetic excitation sources than the ordinary Bunsen burner flame." He also suggested looking at


He also mentioned that silver and gold are easily identified by other methods.

Hope this helps -
Dr. Topper

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