This web page defines just how to perdevelop a flame test for a selection of steel ions, and briefly discusses how the flame color arises. Flame tests are used to determine the visibility of a relatively small variety of metal ions in a compound. Not all steel ions offer flame colors. For Group 1 compounds, flame tests are usually by far the simplest way of identifying which metal you have acquired. For other metals, tbelow are usually various other simple techniques that are more trustworthy - but the flame test deserve to provide a valuable hint regarding wright here to look.

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Figure (PageIndex1): Colored flames from strontium, cesium, sodium and also lithium (from left to right). Picture courtesy of the Claire Murray and Annabelle Baker from the Diamond Light Source. Confirm the colors with the elements on Table (PageIndex1).

Practical Details in Carrying out Flame Tests

Clean a platinum or nichrome (a nickel-chromium alloy) wire by dipping it right into focused hydrochloric acid and then holding it in a warm Bunsen flame. Repeat this until the wire produces no shade in the flame. When the wire is clean, moisten it again in the acid and then dip it right into a tiny amount of the solid to be tested so that some sticks to the wire. Place the wire earlier in the flame. If the flame color is weak, it is regularly beneficial to dip the wire back in the acid and put it ago into the flame as if cleaning it. This have to produce an extremely brief but intense flash of color.

Tbelow will certainly, in reality, constantly be a map of oselection in the flame if you usage nichrome. Platinum is much much better to usage however is a lot, a lot more expensive. If you have actually a specifically dirty little bit of nichrome wire, you can simply chop the end off. You execute not do that via platinum! Dilute hydrochloric acid can be provided instead of focused acid for safety factors, but does not always give such intense flame colors.


The colors in Table (PageIndex1) are simply a guide. Almost everybody sees and also defines colors in a different way. I have, for instance, supplied the word "red" a number of times to explain colors that have the right to be rather different from each other. Other people usage words prefer "carmine" or "crimson" or "scarlet", however not everyone knows the distinctions between these words - specifically if their first language is not English.

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Table (PageIndex1): Flame colors of widespread elements Elementflame color
Lithium red
Sodium strong, persistent orange
Potassium lilac (pink)
Rubidium red (red-violet)
Cesium blue/violet (watch below)
Calcium orange-red
Strontium red
Barium pale green
Copper blue-green (frequently via white flashes)
Lead gray-white

What carry out you execute if you have actually a red flame color for an unknown compound and execute not understand which of the various reds it is? Get samples of known lithium, strontium (etc) compounds and repeat the flame test, comparing the colors produced by among the well-known compounds and also the unknown compound side by side until you have actually an excellent enhance.