Strontium is a chemical element with the symbol Sr and the atomic number 38. An alkaline earth metal, strontium is a soft silver-white or yellowish metallic element that is highly reactive chemically. The metal turns yellow when exposed to air. It occurs naturally in the minerals celestine and strontianite. The 90Sr isotope is present in radioactive fallout and has a half-life of 28.90 years.
Due to its extreme reactivity to air, this element occurs naturally only in compounds with other elements, as in the minerals strontianite and celestite.
Strontium is a bright silvery metal that is softer than calcium and even more reactive in water, which strontium decomposes on contact with to produce strontium hydroxide and hydrogen gas. It burns in air to produce both strontium oxide and strontium nitride, but since it does not react with nitrogen below 380°C it will only form the oxide spontaneously at room temperature. It should be kept under kerosene to prevent oxidation; freshly exposed strontium metal rapidly turns a yellowish color with the formation of the oxide. Finely powdered strontium metal will ignite spontaneously in air. Volatile strontium salts impart a crimson color to flames, and these salts are used in pyrotechnics and in the production of flares. Natural strontium is a mixture of four stable isotopes.
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