Burning metals in air, Magnesium oxide.

Heating metals in air, Magnesium oxide.

ZIMSEC O Level Combined Science Notes: Experiment: Heating metals in air

Aim: To heat metals in air and observe and record the process and results

Materials: magnesium, zinc, iron, copper, tongs, burner


  1. Exam the metals and take note of their appearance before heating them
  2. Hold each metal in turn using tongs and heat it in a burner flame strongly
  3. ( Some metals burn brightly and you might need to protect/shield your eyes to prevent being blinded)
  4. Take note of the metal’s reaction during the process
  5. Cool the metal and take note of its appearance
  6. Repeat the process for all the metals
  7. Write down the results
  8. Be careful of metal fumes during the burning process zinc and magnesium fumes can have detrimental effect to your health
  9. You might have to wear a breathing mask


Metal ElementHow the metal burnsAppearance before heatingReaction upon heating
magnesiumIt burns brightly and continues to burn even after the flame is removedIt is shiny silver and solidIt burns with a bright white flame and leaves a white residue
zincburns less vigorouslyIt is blue-gray/blue-white in colourFlares brightly and leaves a yellow and white oxide
ironBurns less vigorouslyblack or silver grayan orange rust layer forms on the iron
copperHardily burns at allShiny copper colourBurns with a greenish flame and forms a blackish copper oxide layer on the surface of the flame

To access more topics go to the Combined Science Notes page.