The name magnesium comes from the Greek word Magnesia. This element exists in large quantities in the interior of the Earth's mantle. Although it can also be found in seawater and many minerals in the earth's crust, including also the mineral serpentine. Another mineral, dolomite, is also a source of pure magnesium.
Magnesium has many relevant applications. Magnesium alloys are not only strong, but also lightweight, so they are used in a variety of objects, from automobile wheels to cameras. For centuries, many natural magnesium minerals have been used in traditional medicines.

Magnesium carbonate, or magnesia, is used as a stomach antacid because it reacts with hydrochloric acid, lowering the acidity. Heating magnesia produces magnesium oxide, which is one of the ingredients in cement. Magnesium compounds are also used in fireworks, and burn when heated to produce a white flame. Magnesium compound salts, called Epsom salts, named after the place in England where they were first extracted, function as muscle relaxants. Magnesium silicate, known as talc, is a soft mineral used in cosmetics.

Summary of properties (Mg)

Atomic weight[24.304, 24.307]
Discoverer (year)Black, Joseph (1755)
Natural formmetallic solid (hexagonal)
Electron configuration[Ne] 3s2
Melting point (ºC)639
Boiling point (ºC)1090
Abundance in earth's crust (ppm)23300
Isotope (abundance)24Mg (78.951), 25Mg (10.020), 26Mg (11.029)
Density g/cm31.74
Van der Waals radius (pm)173
Covalent radius (pm)140
Electronegativity (Pauling)1.31
Vaporization enthalpy (kJ/mol)128.70
Enthalpy of fusion (kJ/mol)8.48
Specific heat capacity (J/g·K) at 25ºC and 1 atm1.02
Thermal conductivity (W/cm·K) at 25ºC and 1 atm1.560
Oxidation state+2
Electron affinity (eV)unstable ion
1st Ionization potential (eV)7.6462

Back to the Periodic Table of the Elements.