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Magnesium is an element that is silvery white and very light. It is found naturally as a free metal or in many compounds, including magnesium carbonate, magnesium chloride, magnesium hydroxide, milk of magnesia, magnesium oxide, and magnesium sulfate hexahydrate (Epsom salt). Magnesium is used as a deodorant, to relieve heartburn and dyspepsia, in high-tech manufacturing, in the manufacture of automobile parts, in metallurgy, and as a dietary supplement.
A major advantage of magnesium is its low density, two-thirds that of aluminum. This has prompted the manufacture of magnesium alloys, which have a wide variety of applications. These include refractory material for the lining of furnaces to remove sulphur from iron and steel; photoengraved plates in the printing industry; flashlight ribbon and powder, flares, and pyrotechnic devices; and the reducing agent for the production of pure uranium and other metals from their salts.
One of the best known magnesium compounds is the magnesium chloride, MgCl_
Because of its low density, magnesium is a desirable material for aircraft and missile construction. However, its brittleness limits its structural use. Therefore, it is mainly used in the form of alloys, principally with 10 percent or less of aluminum, zinc, and manganese, to increase its hardness, tensile strength, and ability to be cast, welded, and machined.