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Whats an advantage for using powdered magnesium for flash photography instead of magnesium ribbon?

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The powder burns much faster than the ribbon, providing a quick bright flash. The ribbon would burn more slowly, providing a longer lasting light but not as bright.

See the Related Question for why a powdered substance will generally react faster.
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Why is it important to clean a magnesium ribbon before using it?

  It's important to clean it, in order to remove the dark layers of carbonate and sulphate which have been formed on the ribbon because of the reaction of Mg with CO2 and

What can you use instead of magnesium ribbon?

i use sparklers as they contain metal fuels such as magnesium, titanium as well as others which mean they at the right temps for a high temp ignitions. Ribbon is not very st