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Flaming Flame test

Michael Schmidt wrote:

It is easy to get a positive flame test for sodium--in fact one must be
scrupulously clean NOT to get a sodium emission. Unless you (1)
dissolved the stump remover in deionized (not just RO) water (2)
repeatedly rinsed and heated the sample wire and (3) touched nothing
with your hands that eventually ended up in contact with the test
solution, you will get a sodium emission. Sodium is everywhere, and
flame tests are quite sensitive for Na.

Michael Schmidt
California State University, San Marcos
San Marcos, CA 



I was a Chemistry major with a year of graduate work and six years of
clinical laboratory experience (Medical Technologist).  For a large
period of that time I ran the automated and individual instruments that
analyzed serum electrolytes (Na, K, Cl, CO2).  I also operated the lab's
atomic absorption equipment for more exotic ions.  While the details
have dulled a little after a career change 20 years ago, I think I still
have done more of these quantative procedures than the average guy and
have a practical understanding of factors that can effect the
intrepertation of results.  Unfortunately that laboratory equipment I
used 20 odd years ago was very precise and accurate but it cost as much
as a house.

I admit that a simple flame test is not quantative but it is a fair
indicator in the specific case of Na (given that you can assume the
composition is predominately sodium, potassium, or ammonium  nitrate).
Also Green Light Stump remover is extremely hygroscopic which another
indicator that it possibly sodium or ammonium nitrate and/or very
impure.  The point is that this product is not a reliable source of
potassium if there is any desire to quantify the concentration..

I suppose you have to trust the labeled ingredients.  Since Green Light
Stump remover did not have a label, I made my own asumptions.

Lyndle Schenck