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Why do we analyse Barium?

Barium element icon

Barium, like all the other alkaline earth metals, is soft and silvery (however forms a very dark grey colour upon oxidation unlike most other alkaline metals), reacts with water violently and is not found in its elemental form in nature due to its high reactivity. However, it exhibits interesting properties, such as YBCO, a high-temperature superconductor which was one of

the first alloys to exhibit these properties.

In photometry, the flame colour of Barium is green and does not have many spectral overlaps

with other ions that a flame photometer analyses routinely making its analysis simple and


Electronically Barium is found in the 2+ state in pretty much every case that you can think of

apart from rare and unstable cases it is found in the +1 state such as Barium Fluoride gas,

which is very unstable.

Barium discovery is interesting due to it being commonplace to use it during alchemy. Rocks

that washed up on the beaches of southern Italy due to a large amount of volcanic rock found

there. It had been used for around 170 years before in 1774 it was thought to contain new

element humanity had never isolated before. Multiple attempts were made to isolate barium,

however, due to it being strongly bound to oxygen, the closest that they got to isolating it was

Barium Oxide. It was Humphry Davey who initially isolated the element via molten

electrolysis of barium salts.

Other claims to fame that barium has is that Barium Sulphate was the very first thing to be

used to develop x-rays the digestive tract in 1908.

Barium production is usually done from Baryte rocks, which are commonly found in

England, China, Romania and also most of the former USSR. However, only 8% of all baryte

mined in modern times is used to make Barium and it is found in low concentrations in both

seawater as well as the outer crust of the earth.

Barium in commercial use, however, is limited. It was used as a way to ensure that residual

gasses from vacuum tubes are removed, as barium sulphate is highly reactive to most gasses

found in the earth atmosphere, Oxygen, CO2, Water and Nitrogen. It also exhibits properties

that can trap noble gasses. However, as the commercial use of vacuum tubes has died with

the rise in LCD screen displays, barium is not commonly found in day to day commercial



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