Periodic Table -> Magnesium


Magnesium Details

Magnesium Symbol: Mg

Magnesium Atomic Number: 12

Magnesium Atomic Weight: 24.312

What is Magnesium?

Magnesium is a well-known chemical element under number 12 in the periodic table. It goes by the symbol Mg and is one of the elements that are most frequently found in the Earth's crust, and indeed in the whole universe. It makes up 13 percent of the Earth's mass. Its abundance is owed to its easy accumulation in supernova stars. Mg is highly soluble in water, which is why it is one of the most abundant elements that can be dissolved.

Magnesium is found in significant quantities in different minerals, such as serpentine, olivine, magnetite, dolomite, and others. It is the 3rd most abundant element in the earth’s crust, after iron and aluminum, and is also found is salty layers, underground brines, and seawater.

The major world supplier of magnesium is the US, supplying about 45 percent of it globally. Magnesite and dolomite are mined, with quantities reaching 10 million tonnes annually, in countries such as Greece, Russia, Austria, Slovakia, North Korea, Turkey, and China. Mg is generated mainly by obtaining magnesium salts from brine and undergoing electrolysis.

Magnesium does not occur naturally as a free element, being extremely reactive. As a free metal, it burns with a bright white light. Its reactivity is partly concealed because it is covered with a layer of oxide following production.

The compounds of this element usually have the appearance of white crystals. A great deal of them is soluble in water. Mg has three stable isotopes - 24Mg, 25Mg, and 26Mg. The majority of magnesium is in the form of the first isotope.

The element is light and silvery-white in color. Its strong reaction with water makes it useful in that it can power a magnesium-based engine. It also reacts with hydrochloric acid and other acids. There is a subsequent release of hydrogen gas. Mg is extremely flammable, but not in large quantities. If it starts to burn though, it is very hard to put out. This is because it can burn in nitrogen, water, and carbon dioxide, forming different chemical compounds with all of these. The only way to deal with a magnesium fire is to smother it under dry sand to break off all contact with the atmosphere.

In the early years of photography, magnesium was used as a source of light. This was because of the brilliant light it gives off when burning in air. Today, the element is used to produce fireworks and marine flares. It reaches very high temperatures when burning, up to 3,100 °C. The main use of this element is in aluminum-magnesium alloys. The element is commonly used in fertilizers, laxatives, for nerve stabilization, and the treatment of spasms of blood vessels (as an element in certain types of medications).

The element is sour, making it useful to improve the taste of mineral water in low amounts. It makes up a large part of the human body as well, with vital ions. Magnesium plays a vital role in the formation of DNA too. Humans need at least 200 mg of magnesium and can take up to 350 mg a day. The human body deals quite efficiently with magnesium – it recycles excessive amounts and takes it from food whenever contained in it. Persistent intake of high amounts, however, may result in confusion, lethargy, and muscle weakness.

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