Magnesium burns in air

Demonstration of magnesium burning in air


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Wear lab gloves and eye protection.

Don't look directly at the flame.

Always follow general safety recommendations. Please note that conducting chemistry experiments you must comply with the relevant legal procedures in your country.

Reaction formula

2Mg + O2 → 2MgO


  1. Magnesium ribbon

Step-by-step instruction

  1. Take 6-8 cm of magnesium ribbon with tweezers.
  2. Ignite the ribbon with a burner. The ribbon burns with a white flame.

Scientific background

Magnesium reacts with oxygen from air and forms magnesium oxide. This reaction is very exothermic, but to initiate the reaction ignition is needed. The flame has a bright white color - it is the characteristic color of magnesium flame. A white powder of magnesium oxide forms in this experiment.

In this process magnesium also reacts with carbon dioxide CO2 forming carbon and magnesium oxide.


Published on 14 June 2015

  • Fire
  • Heating with fire
  • Explosion
  • Poisoned gas
  • Organic
  • Electricity
  • Solution
  • Oxidation reduction
  • Color change
  • Precipitate
  • Gassing
  • Catalyst