flame tests

Flame Test Activity: Which ion produces the color?
Name: _________________________ Date: _________________________
Flame tests provide a way to test for the presence of specific metallic ions. The heat of
the flame excites the electrons (excited state) in the metal ion, and this energy is released
as the electrons “fall back” to their ground states. The color we see is a combination of
the visible wavelengths of light emitted by the ion.
Materials: q-tips, water, ionic salts, Bunsen burners
Safety measures: you will be using the Bunsen burners; beware of open flames
safety glasses must be worn
1. Wet the q-tip and put a small amount of an ionic salt on the end
2. Hold the salt in the flame and note the color that is emitted
3. Repeat this procedure for all salts
4. Use a different q-tip for each salt; one q-tip can be used for two salts
5. You will be given three unknown salts; based on earlier observations determine which
metal ion is present
Ionic salt
Potassium chloride
Ferric (iron) chloride
Cobalt Chloride
Nickel chloride
Barium chloride
Lithium chloride
Copper (II) chloride
Strontium chloride
Sodium chloride
Color observed
Ion producing color
Unknown salt
Metal present
Analysis and conclusion:
1. Why do we see colors in the flame tests, and why are there different colors for
different metal ions? ______________________________________________________
2. How does the flame test provide support for quantized energy levels? Explain
3. Does the anion in a salt affect color observed in flame test? _____________________
Flame Test Activity: Which ion produces the color?
Name: _________________________ Date: _________________________