March 14 2012 4 14 /03 /March /2012 17:24
I recently obtained a magnesium firestarter. The magnesium is scraped into shavings by the accompanying saw and ignited with sparks from an attached mischmetal rod. The magnesium burns with a dull white flame. When this magnesium contacts any water, it both flash boils the water and reduces it to hydrogen, which ignites. The end result is a flash of light and an instant scattering of the magnesium shavings.
I thought about mixing some calcium metal in with the magnesium shavings. Although the calcium metal chunks were larger than the shavings, I had hope that at least some of them would ignite. They did. The calcium burnt quickly with a brilliant red-orange light, easily drowning out the magnesium fire. I took a video of this reaction; here it is.
I then, instead of scraping the magnesium block, scraped the mischmetal rod used to ignite the magnesium. Scraping it slowly prevents it from igniting. However, the pile of mischmetal flakes is very easily ignitable and burns with a relative dim white light, throwing off sparks and crackling in the process. It reacts with water in the same way that magnesium does, as magnesium holds many similarities with the rare earth metals.
Here is another video. This time the mischmetal shavings are mixed with a piece of lithium, which does not ignite.
I will need to try a lithium - magnesium mixture to see whether I can get the lithium to ignite.