Magnesium is often alloyed with aluminium and other elements (‘Exfoliation resistant aluminium magnesium alloy’ (2004)), where improved characteristics such as mechanical properties, component manufacture, and light-weight applications are required such as aircraft construction (‘Aluminum-copper-magnesium-manganese alloy useful for aircraft applications’ (1999)).
Magnesium is also added to molten iron and steel to remove sulphur: ‘Method of producing steel with the lowest possible sulfur content by desulfurization of pig iron with magnesium coke’ (1980).
Magnesium ignites easily in air and burns with an intense white light, it is used in flares, fireworks and sparklers.
The compounds of magnesium have many, versatile applications:
- Magnesium sulphate is sometimes used as a mordant for dyes.
- Magnesium hydroxide is added to plastics to make them fire retardant: ‘Nanoparticles of Flame Retardant Magnesium Hydroxide and Method of Production the same’ (2015).
- Magnesium oxide is used to make heat-resistant bricks for fireplaces and furnaces: ‘Baking-free ecological brick made of waste subway engineering mud and making method of baking-free ecological brick’ (2019); it is also added to cattle feed and fertilisers: ‘Granular Magnesium Oxide Fertiliser’ (1997).
- Magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia), sulfate (Epsom salts), chloride and citrate are all used in medicine.
- Grignard reagents are organic magnesium compounds that are important for the chemical industry: ‘Magnesium Grignard Agents’ (1974).
Watch this video to see a ribbon of elemental magnesium burn in air with a bright white flame.