The Flame Test

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There are a myriad of ways of identifying an element. One of these methods is the study of colors emitted by the element when exposed to an energy source. Flame tests are a fast and reliable method of determining the identity of unknown metal ions. The Flame Test was designed to test different metal ions to observe the colors that each chemical makes. The Flame Test was also used to identify unknown metallic ions based on the color of the flames produced. In this lab, Petri dishes each containing a different metal ion were doused in ethanol and lighted using a lighter. The metal salts each burned a different color in the fire based on the identity of the ion. By placing atoms of a metal into a flame, electrons in an atom can absorb energy from…show more content…
The metal ion is most likely strontium, because the color emitted by the fire during the burning of this metal most closely matched the color emitted during the burning of the known element strontium. Both the unknown metal ion and the known strontium metal ion burned a red/orange color, so it can be surmised that the identity of the unknown metal ion is strontium. The gas in test tube one is most likely barium, while the gas present in test tubes two and three are most likely mercury and calcium, respectively. These predictions of the identity of the gases were made by the use of a spectroscope. The spectroscope takes an emitted light and splits it up into its component colors. It spreads out the colors of the light, allowing for the identification of elements by the bright lines visible in the spectroscope. Because of the differences in electron configurations, each element has a unique energy requirement for an electron to jump energy levels when excited, it also differs in the amount of energy it releases as it goes back to ground state, thus causing a change in color emitted. The spectroscope breaks down those individual colors and creates a "footprint" that is unique to each element. After observing the accepted patters for a set of elements, the observed spectrum patterns were compared and were matched with the most probable element based on emission spectra. Among the multitude of ways used to identify elements, flame testing and spectroscopy have proven to be a fast, reliable and efficient way of ascertaining the identity of various
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