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Guest Nightwolf

Magnesium

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Guest Nightwolf

This may seem a rather easy question to ask but why does Magnesium burn so easily. Does it have something to do with the electrons? :confused:

I'm at a lose when it comes to science like this. :) Thanks

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eh this isnt quantum mechanics... magnesium oxidizes easily because of its valency of 2 and its nucleus' little control of the electrons in its outermost S sublevel. you know how alkali metals react with air? this is the same thing except it is more rapid. if you ignite an alkali metal it will react vigorously as well

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I wouldn’t say 'easy' though. It’s nearly impossible to light a block, they use magnesium in aircraft applications. Although that’s really a thermal characteristic.

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"It’s nearly impossible to light a block"

 

Have you seen the burning of a computer cover-thingie made of magnesium? Damn, they put some hard effort into lighting it. :)

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Yea, I did see that. I wish I could have been there. It wouldnt have been much to look at though because it would be so bright.

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I think gas lawn mowers have a large magnesium piece too.

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is that petrol lawn mowers or is that a new kind of lawn mower in america because that would be quite handy getting hold of a large chunk of magnesium

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If you have old (over 10 years or so) pencil sharpeners around, they just might be made of an over 90% Mg alloy.

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It's petrol lawn mowers. I don't know what you mean by "new kind ... in america". Do you mean electric? In that case, then no, they don't have it.

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Now I am confused, you say that magnesium blocks are difficult to light, but many people use sticks of magnesium in order to start fires. Are you refering to a larger layer of magnesium oxide covering the outside of the "blocks?"

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They don’t light the sticks they shave a thin layer off and light the shreds.

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my question, is how is that different from lighting the block. Is it similar to trying to light a wooden log as compared to a twig?

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^Yes.

 

A large block will be able to absorb more heat before ignitng, which means that more heat is required. Smaller pieces (especially with more surface area) will light quicker.

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what you do with a fire starter is get the magnesium block and scrape it with something steel eg a steel blade this produce's sparks which are capable of lighting tinder, or straw ect there are no shreds used and with the lit straw/tinder you then light larger pieace's of wood and the you have your fire

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No, youre wrong. Youre thinking of the magnesium/flint blocks.

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No. It’s basically magnesium block glued to a flint block. You scrape the magnesium off into a pile then you flip it around and scrape the flint off (which burns on contact with the air) which lights the magnesium. Of course I could be wrong and you could be thinking of something completely different that I have not heard of.

 

Jake: Think of an aluminum heat sink. Aluminum will also burn.

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this is the same reason burning a log takes a while but paper doesnt, :)

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I think you are both confusing a magnesium firestarter with flint and steel.

 

Also I think i have seen magnesium cylinders with plastic handles that you scrape wit a piece of steel. It makes sparks as you scrape bit of the magnesuium off.

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