What color would a non-ionic compound, such as $\ce{NH4OH}$ or $\ce{HCl}$, produce in a flame test? Is no color produced, or is it different for each compound?

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    $\begingroup$ I'm confused. I would consider both $\ce{NH4OH}$ and $\ce{HCl}$ to be ionic compounds. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    May 11, 2019 at 3:29

1 Answer 1


Flame emission (or better atomic emission) does not care whether your starting compound was ionic or not. Everything decomposes into flame either into atoms or very simple molecules. The blue color you see from the flame is also from very small molecules which exist in the flame.


Ordinary flame like the Bunsen burner is way too cold for non-metals. However if we were to heat HCl or ammonium hydroxide in a confined "container" at very high temperatures say, 5000 - 10,000 $^oC$, eventually you would start to see atomic emission from hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and chlorine. Most of the non-metal emission (p-block) lies in the UV or deep UV. You won't be able to see anything with bare eyes.


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