Analysis: The crucible was heated numerous times at the beginning of the experiment to obtain a constant mass but also to burn off any excess volatile material that had been left behind in it from previous experiments. The experiment was performed in the crucible rather than burning the magnesium in the air to control the amount of magnesium oxide lost. If the magnesium had been burned in the open air some of the oxide would become airborne and the mass measured at the end would not be accurate. Because the magnesium was being heated it not only reacted with oxygen but also with nitrogen which in returned formed magnesium nitride. Then once the water was added to the magnesium nitride (or white/gray magnesium powder) it converted to magnesium hydroxide and ammonia which is why the slight ammonia smell was present. The final heating of the crucible converted the magnesium hydroxide to magnesium oxide and water. After repeating heating process magnesium oxide is the only thing remaining in the crucible.Conclusion: It is important to obtain accurate data in order to determine meaningful results. The crucible was heated and weighted multiple times until a constant mass was obtained because to start the experiment a reproducible mass is needed before other numbers and data can be collected for calculations. In Finding the mass of any element present in a reaction the student should be able to convert the grams measured into to moles and from the number of moles for both elements a mole ratio can be used to the determine the empirical formula.
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