What does it look, feel, taste, or smell like?
Magnesium as a metal is silver-white and lightweight. It is pictured here in a stick, but it also comes in powder form. Surprisingly, it can be bought by the average person, usually for medical reasons.
How was it discovered?
French-Scottish physician and chemist Joseph Black discovered magnesium in 1755 in England. Sir Humphry Davy electrolytically isolated pure magnesium metal in 1808.
Where did its name come from?
Magnesium gets its name from the Greek word for a district in the Greek region of Thessaly called Magnesia.
Where is it found?
Magnesium as a pure metal is not found in nature, but it is very common as an ion in various compounds.
Magnesium is very common on earth and in seawater.
Magnesium can be found in green vegetables, especially darker green ones. This is because chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants, contains magnesium.
What are its uses?
Magnesium is necessary for all living cells. It is used to help our body make molecules like DNA. Plants also use magnesium as a part of chlorophyll for photosynthesis.
Magnesium burns very bright white. In the old days, magnesium could be used as a light source and was used to create the flash for cameras. Now, it is used in some fireworks. It is also used to make incendiary bombs.
Since magnesium is a third lighter than aluminum, it is combined with other metals to make missiles and aircraft. Many automakers use magnesium alloys in their vehicles. Some car batteries use magnesium.
Magnesium oxide (MgO), also called magnesia, is used in some stomach antacids. Magnesium is also used to make epsom salts, which is used to treat minor skin abrasions.
Magnesium is also used for construction. It is known as one of the lightest metals that can be used for construction.
Is it dangerous?
Magnesium is highly flammable, and the bright light it gives off can damage the eyes. Never place it in fire, as it burns at an EXTREMELY high temperature, and never throw it into an acid which might cause the release of flammable hydrogen gas. Keep away from children.