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Flame color for selected chemical elements table
Table shows flame colors specific to given chemical elements such as yellow-orange for sodium (Na), red-cherry for lithium (Li) etc.

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Flame test

Element symbolElement nameFlame color (name)Flame color (preview)
Lilithiumred-cherry
 
Nasodiumyellow-orange
 
Kpotassiummauve
 
Rbrubidiumpink-red
 
Cscesiumblue-red
 
Cacalciumbrick-red
 
Srstrontiumcrimson
 
Babariumgreen-yellow
 
Raradiumcarmine-red
 
Gagalliumblue
 
Inindiumindigo
 
Tltalliumpale green
 
Bboronyellow-green
 
Cucoppercyan
 

Some facts

  • The compounds of some metals evaporate after introducing them to the flame causing the change of its color (i.e. color of flame).
  • Atoms during contact with the flame are excited (they absorb energy) and next, they emit the quantum of light during the return to the previous state (relaxation).
  • The color of a flame is specific to a given element, because it is result of atomic properties.
  • The wavelength of the emitted light results directly from the difference in energy levels. These levels are specific for a given element.
  • The relationship between wavelength and transition energy (differing between energy levels) is as follows:
    λ=hcΔE\lambda = \frac{hc}{\Delta E}
    where:
    • λ\lambda - wavelength of emmited light,
    • h - Planck's constant,
    • c - speed of light,
    • ΔE\Delta E - difference between energy levels (energy absorbed during excitation and emitted during relaxation).
  • Because the color of a flame is specific for a given element, it allows a qualitative analysis, i.e. the identification of whether a given element is in the sample or not (but without specifying the quantity).
  • ⓘ Example: When we disperse a pinch of table salt (NaCl) over the gas stove burner, we notice that when the salt meets the flame, it changes color to yellow. This is due to the presence of sodium atoms.

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