Mineralogy Database

Flame Tests

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Flame Coloration by Element

Table of Flame Colorations and Emission Spectra

This table of flame coloration is modified from the book "Determinative Mineralogy and Blowpipe Analysis" by Brush & Penfield, 1906. The colors are best observed by heating the sample on a  loop of platinum wire moistened with HCl. The spectra are calculated to represent the emission from a flame and are based on the work of John Talbot. Additional data for each element were obtained from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Make your own Mini Spectroscope courtesy of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Print a copy of this PDF document and follow the directions.

Color Shade or Tone Element Remarks
Red Crimson Li

The lithium minerals, which are either silicates or phosphates, do not become alkaline after ignition. Compare Strontium.

Flame Spectrum


Red Crimson Sr

Carbonates and sulfates show the strontium reaction, and become alkaline after ignition. Silicates and phosphates do not give the strontium flame.

Flame Spectrum


Red Yellowish to orange Ca

Only a few minerals give this calcium color decisively when heated alone. Often, however, the color shows distinctly after moistening the assay with hydrochloric acid. 

Flame Spectrum


Yellow Intense Na

This test for sodium is so delicate that great care must be exercised in using it. Glass blowers Didymium Safety Glasses may be used to block out this emission to observe the less intense colors.

Flame Spectrum


Green Yellowish Ba

Carbonates and sulfates show the reaction, and become alkaline after ignition. Silicates and phosphates do not give the barium flame.

Flame Spectrum


Green Yellowish Mo

If the molybdenum is in the form of the oxide or the sulfide.

Flame Spectrum


Green Bright, somewhat yellowish B

Boron compounds rarely show an alkaline reaction after ignition. Green color is due to the blue and orange in the spectrum.

Flame Spectrum


Green Pure Tl

Not often observed due to the rarity of thallium-bearing minerals.

Flame Spectrum


Green Pale bluish P

The phosphorus color is not very decisive, but often aids in the identification of a phosphate.

Flame Spectrum


Green Bluish Zn

Zinc appears as bright streaks in the flame.

Flame Spectrum


Green Pale Te

Tellurium is not very decisive.

Flame Spectrum


Green Pale Sb

Antimony is not very decisive.

Flame Spectrum


Green Pale Pb

Lead is not very decisive.

Flame Spectrum


Blue Azure CuCl2

The copper flame color is dependent on the presence of halide (I, F, Br, or Cl). The color can be used to detect halides by using copper oxide moistened with test solution. The outer darts of the flame are tinged with emerald-green. 

Flame Spectrum


Blue Azure Se

The selenium color is accompanied by the characteristic odor of rotting radishes.

Flame Spectrum


Blue   In

The element Indium is named for the prominent blue lines in its spectrum.

Flame Spectrum


Blue   As

The arsenic color is accompanied by the characteristic odor of garlic.

Flame Spectrum


Violet Pale K

The potassium color is often masked by the more prominent yellow from sodium.

Flame Spectrum


Violet Pale Rb

The rubidium color is often masked by the more prominent yellow from sodium.

Flame Spectrum


Violet Pale Cs

The cesium color is often masked by the more prominent yellow from sodium. The first element found using a spectroscope.

Flame Spectrum