When left open in the air, Magnesium reacts with atmospheric oxygen to form Magnesium Oxide (MgO). The MgO layer does not burn or slow down the burning process, and thus should be removed. So the Magnesium ribbon should be cleaned off with a sandpaper before burning, to remove impurities that may cause a reaction. Once cleaned, only pure Magnesium is present and can react without interference from other substances.

Magnesium is an alkaline Earth metal. Alkaline Earth metals are very reactive because they have just two electrons in their outer electron shell. Besides the fact that it has a high reactivity with oxygen and water, the element has the ability to start fires and is used in survival fire lighters.

The magnesium ribbon is a thin strip of magnesium alloy that produces intense heat and bright white light when it is ignited. It works by burning in the air. The magnesium ribbon’s brightness decreases with time, and can be extinguished by being submerged in cold water.  You probably remember doing this in your Science class!!

The magnesium ribbon lights up with a dazzling white flame and changes into a white powder. This powder is magnesium oxide, a new substance that forms from magnesium reacting with oxygen present in the air.  NEVER hold in the hand.  Use tongs.  Use around 5 cm.

Magnesium Ribbon  4mm width  0.2mm thick  25 grams    Approx 23 metres  99.95% purity $20.00