Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsChemistry · 1 decade ago

What is the history of the flame test?

1 Answer

  • 1 decade ago
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    The really is no history to the flame test itself since it would go back to ancient times. These scientists and later alchemists would have known that certain substances produced different colors in the flame. They would not have known why.

    The why a flame test works does have a history (see reference). The production of emission lines in the flame goes back to the early 1800's. From the reference:

    "The next step in spectral analysis is due to John Herschel (son of William) and W.H. Fox Talbot. They demonstrated, when a substance is heated and its light passed through a spectroscope, that each element gave off its own set of characteristic bright lines of color. In 1826, they wrote "a glance at the prismatic spectrum of a flame may show it to contain substances which it would otherwise require a laborious chemical analysis to detect." The modern term for a spectrum of bright colored lines is "emission spectrum."...."

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