In flame photometry, a branch of atomic spectroscopy also called “flame atomic emission spectrometry,” atoms are examined in the spectrometer. This technique is suited to the quantitative and qualitative determination of a variety of cations—particularly for alkali and alkaline earth metals— since they are excited to higher levels of energy at low flame temperatures.1

Top 6 Questions You Should Ask When Buying a flame photometer

1. Flame photometers are used to measure five ions (K, Na, Li, Ca & Ba); is the instrument multi-channel and can all five ions be detected and displayed simultaneously?

2. What is supplied as standard? Does the flame photometer have an internal air compressor, is computer reporting/analysis software and calibrations solutions supplied? If not, what is the extra cost?

3. Analysis time can be lost to recalibrate the machine when switching between channels/ ions. Does the instrument store calibration data? Are there calibration correction capabilities to reduce or eradicate the need to recalibrate?

4. What is the footprint of the flame photometer and any other accessories required to operate it?

5. Does the supplier offer application support and technical support? Are there online training and support videos available in your language? Is the support center operated by local “experts”? Are spare parts/consumables available locally and what is the average delivery time?

6. Is a “standard” model flame photometer the correct choice for you? Are there industry-specific flame photometers, designed around your sample type or application?

How Flame Photometers Work

• These instruments are fairly simple, consisting of four basic components: a flame or “burner,” a nebulizer (or aspirator) and mixing chamber, color filters, and a photo detector. Flame photometers are also very cost effective and easy to use.

• In a flame photometer, the solution is aspirated through a nebulizer (or aspirator) into the flame. After the sample matrix evaporates, the sample is atomized. Atoms then reach an excited state by absorbing heat from the flame. When these excited atoms return to their lowest-energy state, they give off radiation in certain wavelengths, leading to the creation of a line spectrum.

• A filter pre-selected based on the atom being analyzed is used in flame photometry. The emission line’s intensity is then practically measured and is related to the solution’s original concentration.2


1. Flame Photometry, Szalay Luca, Petrik Lajos Vocational School for Chemistry, Environmental Sciences and Information Technology, Budapest, Hungary.

2. Flame Photometry Analysis/Instrument%20Book/Instbook/Flame_photometry.htm

Recently Released flame photometers

BWB 2012 Range
• Offers improvements in ease of use, accuracy, stability, automation and reliability • Includes Auto Read—eliminates any operator interpretation or prejudice from the results
• Features integrated printer—an easy to use thermal printer allowing the user to print results
• Provides improved sample introduction with the improved side entry nebulizer
• Also includes new non-glass drain cup

BWB Technologies

Model PFP-7
• Designed as a low cost approach for the routine determination of sodium and potassium
• Additional filters are available for the measurement of lithium, barium, and calcium
• Features push button ignition, switchable decimal point, and electronic flame failure detection
• Filter wheel allows fast changing of analytical parameters
• High Resolution to 0.1 PPM

Buck Scientific

• Gives flame-photometric measuring of up to three elements simultaneously (purified and dried air is required)
• Allows 99 definable methods, and stores the last 999 measurements
• Can be easily customized to suit user requirements
• For traceability of results, it has the facility to export data via USB port, PROFIBUS DP, RS232 or Ethernet interface


Model 360
• Boasts an ergonomic design with front loading, unobstructed sample work area, and removable tray for easy cleaning
• Ease of use results from auto ignition and flame optimization
• Safety features including fail safe flame detection and shut off, with low air pressure indicator
• Provides high sensitivity with fine manual control of air, and stable flame design

Sherwood Scientific

Flame Photometer Manufacturers

Advanced Technical Services
Bibby Scientific
Buck Scientific
Burkard Scientific
BWB Technologies
Sherwood Scientific
Spectrolab Systems