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Magnesium turnings are the granular by-product of magnesium metal processing. This material is often used to make Grignard reagents, as well as other organomagnesium compounds. The turnings can also be used to catalyze reactions such as the Pinacol coupling and Reformatsky reaction. Magnesium is an essential nutrient in humans, and plays important roles in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the human body. The dietary requirement for adults is approximately 300 mg per day. The most common sources of magnesium are inorganic and organic minerals, such as dolomite (CaMg(CO3)2), magnesite MgCO3, serpentine Mg(Si4O10)(OH)2, and synthetic and natural chelates.
Elemental magnesium is a silvery-white, fairly tough metal with a relatively high melting point and density. It tarnishes slightly in air and readily ignites in finely divided form, giving off a dazzling white flame. It is one-third lighter than aluminum and is used in alloys for aircraft and missile construction, as well as in flash photography, signal flares, and pyrotechnics. Magnesium salts are employed in explosive sensitizers and incendiaries, and the compound magnesium carbonate (milk of magnesia) is a mild base used as an antacid.
Magnesium can be found in nature in large deposits of the igneous mineral dolomite, and in subterranean brines and salt lakes. It is also obtained by electrolysis of fused magnesium chloride derived from these deposits. It is a moderately explosive dust when exposed to flame and reacts violently with water, acids, and certain oxidizing agents to evolve hydrogen gas, posing a fire hazard.