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Why should a magnesium ribbon be cleaned before burning in air?

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Magnesium ribbon should be cleaned with sandpaper before burning in air due to the following reasons: 

• Magnesium is very reactive element which rapidly reacts with oxygen in the air to form a white layer of magnesium oxide, which may prevent or slow down the burning of magnesium ribbon. 

• Unwanted impurities deposited on the magnesium ribbon can be removed and only pure magnesium can be used for the reaction.

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Magnesium ribbon should be cleaned with sandpaper before burning in air because Magnesium is very reactive element which rapidly reacts with oxygen in the air to form a white layer of magnesium oxide, which may prevent or slow down the burning of magnesium ribbon. 

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