I'm studying about the s-block elements in my course of Inorganic Chemistry and I happened to come across the following text.

Electrons may be quite readily excited to a higher energy level, for example in the flame test. To perform this test, a sample of Metal Chloride or any salt of metal moistened with conc. HCl, is heated on a platinum or nichrome wire in a Bunsen burner flame.

Why are metal chlorides specifically used and also what is the role of the Plantinum or Nichrome wire?

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    $\begingroup$ The platinum wire is not attacked by the hot chlorides, nicrome is so cheap you dont care. $\endgroup$
    – Karl
    Commented Nov 27, 2019 at 7:38

2 Answers 2


Metal chlorides are usually much easier volatilized than oxides or sulfates. They melt or sublime at temperatures much lower than 800°C. So they are volatilized in any flame like Bunsen burners.

Platinum is not attacked by hot chlorides or acids, and is not oxidized in hot air. So it can be used for a great number of consecutive tests in the flame. It will never wear out in the flame.


Adding to the first answer: NiCr wires are used because they are cheaper as platinum wires and still have a good chemical resistance and high melting point. Even tough platinum is much superior to NiCr.


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