Magnesium oxide
IUPAC name
Magnesium oxide
Other names
3D model (JSmol)
ECHA InfoCard 100.013.793 Edit this at Wikidata
EC Number
  • 215-171-9
E number E530 (acidity regulators, ...)
RTECS number
  • OM3850000
  • InChI=1S/Mg.O
  • O=[Mg]
Molar mass 40.304 g/mol[1]
Appearance White powder
Odor Odorless
Density 3.6 g/cm3[1]
Melting point 2,852 °C (5,166 °F; 3,125 K)[1]
Boiling point 3,600 °C (6,510 °F; 3,870 K)[1]
Solubility Soluble in acid, ammonia
insoluble in alcohol
Electrical resistivity Dielectric[a]
Band gap 7.8 eV[2]
−10.2·10−6 cm3/mol[3]
Thermal conductivity 45–60 W·m−1·K−1[4]
6.2 ± 0.6 D
Halite (cubic), cF8
Fm3m, No. 225
a = 4.212Å
Octahedral (Mg2+); octahedral (O2−)
37.2 J/mol K[8]
26.95 ± 0.15 J·mol−1·K−1[9]
−601.6 ± 0.3 kJ·mol−1[9]
-569.3 kJ/mol[8]
A02AA02 (WHO) A06AD02 (WHO), A12CC10 (WHO)
Occupational safety and health (OHS/OSH):
Main hazards
Metal fume fever, Irritant
GHS labelling:
GHS07: Exclamation mark
H315, H319, H335
P261, P264, P271, P273, P280, P302+P352, P304+P340, P305+P351+P338, P312, P333+P313, P337+P313, P362, P363, P391, P403+P233, P405
NFPA 704 (fire diamond)
NFPA 704 four-colored diamondHealth 1: Exposure would cause irritation but only minor residual injury. E.g. turpentineFlammability 0: Will not burn. E.g. waterInstability 0: Normally stable, even under fire exposure conditions, and is not reactive with water. E.g. liquid nitrogenSpecial hazards (white): no code
Flash point Non-flammable
NIOSH (US health exposure limits):
PEL (Permissible)
TWA 15 mg/m3 (fume)[10]
REL (Recommended)
None designated[10]
IDLH (Immediate danger)
750 mg/m3 (fume)[10]
Safety data sheet (SDS) ICSC 0504
Related compounds
Other anions
Magnesium sulfide
Magnesium selenide
Other cations
Beryllium oxide
Calcium oxide
Strontium oxide
Barium oxide
Related compounds
Magnesium hydroxide
Magnesium nitride
Except where otherwise noted, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C [77 °F], 100 kPa).
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Magnesium oxide (MgO), or magnesia, is a white hygroscopic solid mineral that occurs naturally as periclase and is a source of magnesium (see also oxide). It has an empirical formula of MgO and consists of a lattice of Mg2+ ions and O2− ions held together by ionic bonding. Magnesium hydroxide forms in the presence of water (MgO + H2O → Mg(OH)2), but it can be reversed by heating it to remove moisture.

Magnesium oxide was historically known as magnesia alba (literally, the white mineral from Magnesia), to differentiate it from magnesia nigra, a black mineral containing what is now known as manganese.

Related oxides

While "magnesium oxide" normally refers to MgO, the compound magnesium peroxide MgO2 is also known. According to evolutionary crystal structure prediction,[11] MgO2 is thermodynamically stable at pressures above 116 GPa (gigapascals), and a semiconducting suboxide Mg3O2 is thermodynamically stable above 500 GPa. Because of its stability, MgO is used as a model system for investigating vibrational properties of crystals.[12]

Electric properties

Pure MgO is not conductive and has a high resistance to electric current at room temperature. The pure powder of MgO has a relative permittivity inbetween 3.2 to 9.9 with an approximate dielectric loss of tan(δ) > 2.16x103 at 1kHz.[5][6][7]


Magnesium oxide is produced by the calcination of magnesium carbonate or magnesium hydroxide. The latter is obtained by the treatment of magnesium chloride MgCl
solutions, typically seawater, with limewater or milk of lime.[13]

Mg2+ + Ca(OH)2 → Mg(OH)2 + Ca2+

Calcining at different temperatures produces magnesium oxide of different reactivity. High temperatures 1500 – 2000 °C diminish the available surface area and produces dead-burned (often called dead burnt) magnesia, an unreactive form used as a refractory. Calcining temperatures 1000 – 1500 °C produce hard-burned magnesia, which has limited reactivity and calcining at lower temperature, (700–1000 °C) produces light-burned magnesia, a reactive form, also known as caustic calcined magnesia. Although some decomposition of the carbonate to oxide occurs at temperatures below 700 °C, the resulting materials appear to reabsorb carbon dioxide from the air.[citation needed]


Refractory insulator

MgO is prized as a refractory material, i.e. a solid that is physically and chemically stable at high temperatures. It has the useful attributes of high thermal conductivity and low electrical conductivity. According to a 2006 reference book:[14]

By far the largest consumer of magnesia worldwide is the refractory industry, which consumed about 56% of the magnesia in the United States in 2004, the remaining 44% being used in agricultural, chemical, construction, environmental, and other industrial applications.

MgO is used as a refractory material for crucibles. It is also used as an insulator in heat-resistant electrical cable.

Heating elements

It is used extensively as an electrical insulator in tubular construction heating elements as in electric stove and cooktop heating elements. There are several mesh sizes available and most commonly used ones are 40 and 80 mesh per the American Foundry Society. The extensive use is due to its high dielectric strength and average thermal conductivity. MgO is usually crushed and compacted with minimal airgaps or voids.


MgO is one of the components in Portland cement in dry process plants.

Sorel cement uses MgO as the main component in combination with MgCl2 and water.


MgO has an important place as a commercial plant fertilizer[15] and as animal feed.[16]


It is a principal fireproofing ingredient in construction materials. As a construction material, magnesium oxide wallboards have several attractive characteristics: fire resistance, termite resistance, moisture resistance, mold and mildew resistance, and strength, but also a severe downside as it attracts moisture and can cause moisture damage to surrounding materials [17][14][1]


Magnesium oxide is used for relief of heartburn and indigestion, as an antacid, magnesium supplement, and as a short-term laxative. It is also used to improve symptoms of indigestion. Side effects of magnesium oxide may include nausea and cramping.[18] In quantities sufficient to obtain a laxative effect, side effects of long-term use may rarely cause enteroliths to form, resulting in bowel obstruction.[19]

Waste treatment

Magnesium oxide is used extensively in the soil and groundwater remediation, wastewater treatment, drinking water treatment, air emissions treatment, and waste treatment industries for its acid buffering capacity and related effectiveness in stabilizing dissolved heavy metal species.[according to whom?]

Many heavy metals species, such as lead and cadmium, are least soluble in water at mildly basic conditions (pH in the range 8–11). Solubility of metals increases their undesired bioavailability and mobility in soil and groundwater. Granular MgO is often blended into metals-contaminating soil or waste material, which is also commonly of a low pH (acidic), in order to drive the pH into the 8–10 range. Metal-hydroxide complexes tend to precipitate out of aqueous solution in the pH range of 8–10.

MgO is packed in bags around transuranic waste in the disposal cells (panels) at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, as a CO2 getter to minimize the complexation of uranium and other actinides by carbonate ions and so to limit the solubility of radionuclides. The use of MgO is preferred over CaO since the resulting hydration product (Mg(OH)
) is less soluble and releases less hydration heat. Another advantage is to impose a lower pH value (about 10.5) in case of accidental water ingress into the dry salt layers, in contast to the more soluble Ca(OH)
which would create a higher pH of 12.5 (strongly alkaline conditions). The Mg2+
cation being the second most abundant cation in seawater and in rocksalt, the potential release of magnesium ions dissolving in brines intruding the deep geological repository is also expected to minimize the geochemical disruption.[20]

Niche uses

Unpolished MgO crystal

Historical uses


Inhalation of magnesium oxide fumes can cause metal fume fever.[32]

See also


  1. ^ At room temperature.[5][6][7]


  1. ^ a b c d Haynes, William M., ed. (2011). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (92nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 4.74. ISBN 1-4398-5511-0.
  2. ^ Taurian, O.E.; Springborg, M.; Christensen, N.E. (1985). "Self-consistent electronic structures of MgO and SrO" (PDF). Solid State Communications. 55 (4): 351–5. Bibcode:1985SSCom..55..351T. doi:10.1016/0038-1098(85)90622-2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2012-03-27.
  3. ^ Haynes, William M., ed. (2011). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (92nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 4.133. ISBN 1-4398-5511-0.
  4. ^ Application of magnesium compounds to insulating heat-conductive fillers Archived 2013-12-30 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ a b A P, Johnson (November 1986). Structural and electrical properties of magnesium oxide powders (Masters). Durham University.
  6. ^ a b Subramanian, M. A.; Shannon, R. D.; Chai, B. H. T.; Abraham, M. M.; Wintersgill, M. C. (November 1989). "Dielectric constants of BeO, MgO, and CaO using the two-terminal method". Physics and Chemistry of Minerals. 16 (8): 741–746. Bibcode:1989PCM....16..741S. doi:10.1007/BF00209695. ISSN 0342-1791. S2CID 95280958.
  7. ^ a b Hornak, Jaroslav; Trnka, Pavel; Kadlec, Petr; Michal, Ondřej; Mentlík, Václav; Šutta, Pavol; Csányi, Gergely; Tamus, Zoltán (2018-05-30). "Magnesium Oxide Nanoparticles: Dielectric Properties, Surface Functionalization and Improvement of Epoxy-Based Composites Insulating Properties". Nanomaterials. 8 (6): 381. doi:10.3390/nano8060381. ISSN 2079-4991. PMC 6027305. PMID 29848967.
  8. ^ a b Haynes, William M., ed. (2011). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (92nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 5.15. ISBN 1-4398-5511-0.
  9. ^ a b Haynes, William M., ed. (2011). CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics (92nd ed.). Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. p. 5.2. ISBN 1-4398-5511-0.
  10. ^ a b c NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. "#0374". National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
  11. ^ Zhu, Qiang; Oganov A.R.; Lyakhov A.O. (2013). "Novel stable compounds in the Mg-O system under high pressure" (PDF). Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 15 (20): 7696–7700. Bibcode:2013PCCP...15.7696Z. doi:10.1039/c3cp50678a. PMID 23595296. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-12-03. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
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