Magnesium - Safety Precautions For Magnesium Metal

Safety Precautions For Magnesium Metal

Magnesium metal and its alloys are explosive hazards; they are highly flammable in their pure form when molten or in powder or ribbon form. Burning or molten magnesium metal reacts violently with water. When working with powdered magnesium, safety glasses with welding eye protection are employed, because the bright white light produced by burning magnesium contains ultraviolet light that can permanently damage the retinas of the eyes.

Magnesium is capable of reducing water to highly flammable hydrogen gas:

Mg (s) + 2 H2O (l) → Mg(OH)2 (s) + H2 (g)

As a result, water cannot be used to extinguish magnesium fires; the hydrogen gas produced will only intensify the fire. Dry sand is an effective smothering agent but is usable only on relatively level and flat surfaces.

Magnesium also reacts with carbon dioxide to form magnesium oxide and carbon:

2 Mg (s) + CO2 → 2 MgO (s) + C (s)

hence, carbon dioxide fire extinguishers cannot be used for extinguishing magnesium fires either.

Burning magnesium is usually quenched by using a Class D dry chemical fire extinguisher, or by covering the fire with sand or magnesium foundry flux to remove its air source.

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... Magnesium metal and its alloys are explosive hazards they are highly flammable in their pure form when molten or in powder or ribbon form ... Burning or molten magnesium metal reacts violently with water ... When working with powdered magnesium, safety glasses with welding eye protection are employed, because the bright white light produced by burning magnesium contains ultraviolet light ...

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