Reaction of magnesium with concentrated nitric acid

When the piece of metal touches the surface of the liquid, evolution of a brown gas begins.

Scientific name: Magnesium reacts with concentrated nitric acid producing nitrogen dioxide, magnesium nitrate and water.

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Safety

Wear eye protection goggles and gloves. Be very careful handling nitric acid. Perform this experiment only in a fume hood or outdors.

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

Reaction formula

Mg + 4HNO3 → Mg(NO3)2 + 2NO2 + 2H2O

Step-by-step instruction

WARNING! This experiment is dangerous! You should NOT perform this at home. ONLY carry out this experiment, if you are a trained chemist, and you understand local safety and legal requirements, which are required to perform such experiments

  1. This experiment should be performed only in a fume hood.
  2. Pour about 10 ml of concentrated nitric acid into the beaker.
  3. Prepare a pea size piece of magnesium. Place the metal into the beaker.
  4. The reaction proceeds violently. A large amount of a brown gas is liberated. Since the reaction is exothermic the beaker is heated.

Scientific background

Magnesium reacts with concentrated nitric acid producing nitrogen dioxide, magnesium nitrate and water.

Mg + 4HNO3 → Mg(NO3)2 + 2NO2 + 2H2O

The evaluated reddish-brown gas is nitrogen dioxide. Since nitrogen dioxide is a toxic gas this experiment should be performed only in a fume hood.

Danger:
Coolness:
Difficulty:

Published on 09 September 2015

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