Performing a potassium flame test

Performing a potassium flame test

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Credit: JERRY MASON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Performing a flame test (blue) on a potassium compound. A flame test is a simple way to test for the presence of certain metals in a compound. A small amount of the sample is placed on the end of a platinum wire and held in a Bunsen flame. Some metals can be detected by the colour of flame produced. The colour of the flame is caused by the fluorescence of the metal ions within it; the compound is ionised by the heat and the excited metal ions give out light of a characteristic wavelength or colour. A platinum wire is used as it does not give a flame test colour of its own.

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Keywords: analysis, bunsen burner, chemical, chemistry, combustion, flame test, potassium, potassium flame test

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