Qualitative Analysis

This is the next in the series of posts the subjects of which are handed out in turn by Members of the LBC. ( Not the  London Borough Council but the Loose Blogging Consortium) If you survive this posy then you are invited to vist the posts of the other mebers of the Consortium:

Ashok , Conrad, Gaelikaa, MariaMarianna, Ramana, Grannymar , Judy & Helen.

Why Qualitative Analysis?  Good question… the overall topic, suggested by Grannymar, is Flames or Flamers. Whilst pondering his topic i suddenly remembered my A-Level Chemistry lessons and practical examinations.

When testing unknown substances in inorganic chemistry one test for the presence of various metals is The Flame Test.

The test relies on the fact that different metal ions will emmit light of different colours when excited by heat. This is a result of electrons within the ions jumpimg from one level to another level and losing energy in the process. This lost energy is emmitted as photons ( little “packets” of light)  at different frequencies. The different frequencies give us the different colours. ( this is obviously a simplified description of what happens)

I remember how much I enjoyed the practical side of chemistry… I was good at it and apparently gained highest marks in the whole school in my practical examinations. It  was a different story with my theory exams, there just was not enough time to work things out from first principles so I failed the whole exam. I just could not learn everything by rote which is what was required in those days.

You might wonder what other practical use this property of metals could possibly be:


each colour is made by a different metal compound

Photo’s by Mark Bennett of Wye


10 Responses to “Qualitative Analysis”

  1. Rummuser Says:

    Guru Brahma Gurur Vishnu
    Guru Devo Maheshwaraha
    Guru Saakshat Para Brahma
    Tasmai Sree Gurave Namaha

    Meaning:Guru is verily the representative of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. He creates, sustains knowledge and destroys the weeds of ignorance. I salute such a Guru.

  2. Grannymar Says:

    A very interesting take on the subject. The only science offered to me in my days was Domestic, so I am yet again learning at the feet of the teacher!

  3. Ursula Says:

    Magpie, here are two reasons why one should stay well clear of chemistry lessons:

    Firstly your eyebrows will be history (or maybe that was physics and the Bunsen burner); secondly – and if your teacher hates you anyway – you will fail miserably even when having swatted twenty four hours before the exam to cram in the last twelve months of slept through lessons.

    Last time I visited my old school with my then little son in tow I was told that the bastard is dead. A fate I do not even wish on him. And no I didn’t visit his grave.

    If I were an experiment I’d like to come out as the middle one of your photographs.


  4. Maria Says:

    I share a similar educational lack of science with Grannymar. My all girl’s school was more interested in the proper way to serve tea at a reception than science. Besides as Sister Mary Agatha would say, “God made it all possible.”

    I enjoyed your presentation of the metals in fireworks. It is almost like each compound has a personality of its own. They certainly seem to take on a life of their own as the burst across a darkened skyl

  5. Helen Says:

    My science teacher swayed from side to side, enlisting in me the unfortunate feeling of sea sickness. My chance to learn therefore was limited. That being said, my physics teacher was against girls being educated and when he asked me what I wanted to do when I left school, I replied “join the army”, an answer which left many perplexed (being a particular kind of non-army styled girl). The physics teacher’s reply: “what are you going to be, a soldier’s blanket?”. I made up my mind to get an A in both physics and chemistry, just so I could go back and rub it in his face a little. I got the A but I never got to wave that certificate at him as he was jailed shortly before my results came through. I believe he became a blanket of another kind.

  6. Marianna Says:

    Great post, David!

    Serving us our science lesson, a teaspoon at a time. It does make the lesson go down.

    Just a spoonful of science…

    Ok, I guess you can figure out that I’m a Mary Poppins fan.

  7. Anu Says:

    Hello Magpie!
    This is the first time I’ve visited your blog. And boy! Am I glad I did? Hell yes! This was like THE day to visit your blog! I loved the post because if I could have written something on the topic it would be exactly the same thing!!

    My friend Ashok, part of the LBC, would have probably lost count of the number of times I ve told him that I loved doing lab work and happily overtimed in the lab during my graduate years at college here in Bangalore, India. That coupled with the fact that I had my lab records up-to-date and neatly arranged and also that I was almost always the topper in my practical exams, made me the ‘nerd’ in my group. Like you, I never was and still not a big fan of rote learning, so theory classes never interested me. I’m surely going to come back and read more of your posts.

    Do visit my blog and let me know what you think of it.

  8. Ashok Says:

    I sucked at chemistry for as long as I remember and science was quite difficult for me back at school. None the less I have great respect for people who love science 🙂 Interesting take!

  9. gaelikaa Says:

    Congratulations Magpie 11, you have completely surprised me. You have come up with a completely different approach to the topic. Informative as usual!

  10. magpie11 Says:

    Thanks for the compliments…

    Hi Anu…. I never managed to study for a degree. I wanted to study Botany, Zoology and Chemistry at A level but mother put the mockers on that. “If you are going to study science then you MUST study Physics” there followed a lecture on how she never had the opportunity etc and then the blackmail consisting (in cahoots with the Headmaster) of..” Well if you wan to study Science then you’ll do as I say or not study at all.”
    One thing good that came from this was that I became a teacher, eventually. I worked for a year for Dow and Lurex Company…When I left Dow I was told in no uncertain terms that I was the best young Lab tech. they had had in years (This was King’s Lynn) because I never just followed the recipe…I asked for the science behind it all. Always learning!

    I suspect that Conrad might have a bit more info about the electron jumps… all sorts of probabilities and things called orbitals…unless that has gone out the window.

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