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Can You Match The Flame Test Colour To The Element?

How well do you remember this extremely important part of high school chemistry?

Posted on September 9, 2015, at 8:13 a.m. ET

Chemistry revision time!

When you place a compound in a flame, the flame will change colour depending on the metal ion present in the compound. You can use the colour of the flame to work out what metal you have in your sample. This can be very handy if you're a crime scene investigator, or a high school chemistry student trying to pass an exam. Fair warning: Three of these are very subtly different shades of red. I'm sorry. I don't make the rules of chemistry.
Zernliew / Getty Images

When you place a compound in a flame, the flame will change colour depending on the metal ion present in the compound.

You can use the colour of the flame to work out what metal you have in your sample. This can be very handy if you're a crime scene investigator, or a high school chemistry student trying to pass an exam.

Fair warning: Three of these are very subtly different shades of red. I'm sorry. I don't make the rules of chemistry.

  1. 1.

    Kelly Oakes / BuzzFeed / Thinkstock / en.wikipedia.org
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Calcium
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Beryllium
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Also referred to as orange-red, or yellow-red.

  2. 2.

    Kelly Oakes / BuzzFeed / Thinkstock
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Sodium
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Magnesium
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Usually described as a persistent orange, or "intense yellow" (if you're Wikipedia).

  3. 3.

    Kelly Oakes / BuzzFeed / Thinkstock / en.wikipedia.org
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Rubidium
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Lithium
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    A deep red with a very slight purple tinge.

  4. 4.

    Kelly Oakes / BuzzFeed / Thinkstock
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Potassium
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Scandium
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    This one's pretty conclusively called "lilac".

  5. 5.

    Kelly Oakes / BuzzFeed / Thinkstock
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Copper
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Nickel
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    This one depends on the particular copper ion, but most are described as blue-green or green-blue.

  6. 6.

    Kelly Oakes / BuzzFeed / Thinkstock
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Caesium
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Strontium
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Another red! This is called "scarlet" or "crimson", but it's basically just very red red.

  7. 7.

    Kelly Oakes / BuzzFeed / Thinkstock / memrise.com
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Radium
    Correct
    Incorrect
    Barium
    Correct!
    Wrong!

    Pale green, also sometimes called "apple green". It's more yellow than the blue-green of copper.

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