DAVID TAYLOR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID TAYLOR / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Flame test for potassium. A compound containing the element potassium (symbol K) produces a characteristic lilac flame when heated in a bunsen burner. This colour is produced when potassium electrons give off extra energy as a specific type of radiation (in this case it is visible light but it can be radio waves or gamma rays). This distinct energy release is known as an emission spectrum. Each element has its own emission spectrum, which allows it to be identified in different materials.
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