Flame tests


  • Flame tests can be used to identify some metal ions (cations). Lithium, sodium, potassium, calcium and copper compounds produce distinctive colours in flame tests:
  • lithium compounds result in a crimson flame
  • sodium compounds result in a yellow flame
  • potassium compounds result in a lilac flame
  • calcium compounds result in an orange-red flame
  • copper compounds result in a green flame.

If a sample containing a mixture of ions is used some flame colours can be masked.

  • Students should be able to identify species from the results of the tests in to

Flame colours of other metal ions are not required knowledge

WS 2.2 Plan experiments or devise procedures to make observations, produce or characterise a substance, test hypotheses, check data or explore phenomena.

AT 8 Use of appropriate qualitative reagents and techniques to analyse and identify unknown samples or products including gas tests, flame tests, precipitation reactions, and the determination of concentrations of strong acids and strong alkalis (links to A-level AT d).