Magnesium is one of the most important elements that is present in many compounds as well as alloys. It is widely used as a chemical reagent, desulfurization agent, and vital ingredient in fireworks. It finds multiple applications due to its unique chemical and physical properties.
Quick Facts about Magnesium
- The term ‘magnesium’ is derived from the Greek word magnesia, which refers to the name of the place from where it was extracted.
- Magnesium is closely related to manganese and magnetite.
- About 2.1% of the Earth’s crust contains magnesium. This makes magnesium the 6th most found element.
- The biggest deposits of magnesium is found in the seawater. It has been calculated by scientists that a cubic mile of seawater contains about 6 million tons of this element.
Many objects that we use in our day-to-day lives contain magnesium in the form of certain compounds or alloys. Magnesium is produced and exported by nations such as North Korea, Russia, China, Austria, Slovakia etc. Turkey ranks first among the magnesium-producing nations. In the United States, magnesium is derived from the seawater by using a different technology.
Chemical Properties of Magnesium
- Magnesium is located among the alkaline earth metals on the periodic table. This element belongs to the group 2 and period 3 of the periodic table.
- It has the atomic number 12 which implies that it has 12 protons and 12 electrons. The average atomic mass of this element is 24.305 amu.
Reactivity of Magnesium
- Magnesium is a very reactive metal and does not exist in a free state in nature.
- It reacts at a slow pace with cold water and at a very rapid pace with hot water.
- It reacts with almost all the acids and alkalies, leading to the formation of a variety of different compounds and by-products.
- It actively reacts with many non-metals such as nitrogen and fluorine.
- Magnesium also readily reacts with some other compounds such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide,
Oxidization of Magnesium
- The oxidation process of magnesium is very rapid and a layer of oxidized magnesium is formed on the surface of the metal, if kept in the open.
- Magnesium also burns very rapidly, when it is at room temperature. This burning process is very furious as it produces a blinding white light.
Physical Properties of Magnesium
- Magnesium has a silvery white appearance.
- Among all the structural metals, magnesium is the lightest.
- Its boiling point is 1090ºC or 1994ºF.
- The metal displays a very good conductivity of heat and electricity.
Uses of Magnesium
- Pieces of magnesium can be welded, molded, cut, and shaped according to the requirements. It can also be fabricated easily. Such structural metals are generally used to build massive structures and buildings.
- Magnesium is rarely used in the structures in its free form due to its reactive properties. In such cases, it is used as an alloy.
Magnesium and the Human Body
Many us probably do not know the fact that magnesium is also required by the human body for effective functioning. This mineral is prominently present in bones and body cells. The intake of magnesium that is required is very low and principally comes through the molecules of chlorophyll that are prominently present in green leafy vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and fruits such as figs, bananas, and artichokes.
As mentioned in the chemical properties, Magnesium is also present in many other compounds like dolomite, Magnesium carbonate (that is also known as magnesite), and Magnesium sulfate (which is also known by the name epsomite).