Silane from magnesium silicide

Freshly prepared silane reacts vigorously with oxygen

Scientific name: Preparation of magnesium silicide from magnesium and sand or silica in fusion for obtaining silane which is spontaneously flammable in air


Fire and Flame 41 - Silane from Magnesium Silicide

by Royal Society Of Chemistry

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Fire and Flame 36 - Silane

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Wear eye protection goggles. Open air or hood. Non-combustible materials must be around.

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

Reaction formula

2 Mg + SiO2 → 2 MgO + Si

2 Mg + Si → Mg2Si

Mg2Si + H2O → Mg(OH)2 + SiH4

SiH4 + O2 → SiO2 + H2O

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. Preparation of magnesium silicide. Put several grams of magnesium into a test tube.
  2. Add excess of sand to the test tube.
  3. Heat the test tube using a gas burner until the magnesium is melted and reacted with the sand.
  4. Cool the resulting mixture and pour it into water.
  5. Observe the vigorous combustion of silane in air.

Scientific background

Magnesium silicide undergoes a complete hydrolysis to form a very reactive gas - silane. Silicon in silane, which is in oxidation state -4 is a very strong reducing agent, whereby the material ignites spontaneously in air.


Published on 26 March 2015

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