I got my kids a chemistry set for Christmas and we started off with the extremely scientific and technically challenging experiment of burning the little magnesium ribbon to see the intense white flame. I got a good close look at the smoldering, powdery remnants as the ribbon burned out.
The next morning I woke up with red, puffy and slightly peeling skin all over my face. It was very similar to the kind of burn you get on a sunny day at the ski slopes. I didn’t have any respiratory symptoms except possibly a very mild sore throat, and had no vision problems. (The light can be bright enough to damage your eyes if you stare at it for a long time.)
Could the magnesium combustion have burned my face? I looked up a few internet articles and it seems the bright, hot flame of burning magnesium can be enough to cause minor burns from the radiant heat. A couple of sites said the magnesium oxide dust and smoke can get into your skin and cause irritation. But none of the sites seemed all that definitive. They were more like, “This could theoretically happen.” I didn’t feel a lot of heat, and the burn/rash didn’t show up until the next day, so it took some time to develop. But that happens to me (and maybe everyone) with regular sunburns.
Anyone out there done this experiment with similar results?