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Manganese vs. Magnesium: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 11, 2023
Manganese is a transition metal with symbol Mn and atomic number 25, important in steel production; magnesium is an alkaline earth metal with symbol Mg and atomic number 12, essential for living cells.

Key Differences

Manganese is widely recognized for its role in the production of steel, wherein it is used to enhance the strength and durability of the metal alloy. Conversely, magnesium is notably lighter than manganese and is frequently used in products where weight is a critical factor, like in airplane parts.
Manganese is predominantly employed to improve the properties of metals, primarily in steel production, where it acts as a deoxidizer and desulfurizer. Magnesium, due to its lightweight and high strength-to-weight ratio, is valued in manufacturing sectors that prioritize these properties, like the aerospace industry.
Manganese possesses a characteristic hard, brittle, and somewhat malleable quality, with a silver-gray metallic appearance. Magnesium, however, appears as a shiny gray solid and possesses a quite remarkable characteristic: the ability to burn with a brilliant white flame when ignited.
Manganese finds applications in disposable alkaline batteries, being a crucial component of the cathode material. Magnesium's applications spread across various industries, including being utilized as a component in products like fireworks and flares due to its ability to burn brightly and whitely.
Manganese is involved in various biological systems, playing a vital role in enzymatic reactions within living organisms. On the other hand, magnesium is a crucial element for life, being involved in multiple biochemical processes and constituting a component of chlorophyll in plants.

Comparison Chart

Atomic Number


Atomic Mass

~54.94 u
~24.31 u

Element Category

Transition metal
Alkaline earth metal

Biological Role

Enzyme activation, bone development
Enzyme cofactor, chlorophyll component

Common Applications

Steel production, batteries
Aircraft manufacturing, fireworks, nutritional supplements

Manganese and Magnesium Definitions


Manganese often acts as an alloying agent in steel production.
Adding manganese to steel improves its strength and durability.


Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg.
Magnesium is crucial for various biological functions in the body.


Manganese is a transition metal, exhibiting properties of metals and metalloids.
Manganese is often alloyed with aluminum to improve anti-corrosive properties.


Magnesium is essential in numerous biochemical reactions within living organisms.
Magnesium acts as a cofactor in several enzymatic reactions in the body.


Manganese is used in batteries as a component of the cathode material.
Manganese dioxide is commonly used in alkaline batteries.


Magnesium is lighter and has a high strength-to-weight ratio.
Magnesium alloys are often used in aircraft construction due to their lightweight properties.


Manganese is a chemical element with the symbol Mn.
Manganese is commonly used in steel to enhance its properties.


Magnesium can burn with a brilliant white flame when ignited.
Magnesium flares are used to create bright light in emergency situations.


Manganese is vital in enzymatic reactions within biological systems.
Manganese is crucial for bone development in the human body.


Magnesium is a component of chlorophyll, vital for photosynthesis in plants.
Magnesium’s role in chlorophyll aids in converting sunlight into energy in plants.


A gray-white brittle metallic element, occurring in several allotropic forms, found worldwide, especially in the ores pyrolusite and rhodochrosite and in nodules on the ocean floor. It is alloyed with steel to increase strength, hardness, wear resistance, and other properties and with other metals to form highly ferromagnetic materials. Atomic number 25; atomic weight 54.938; melting point 1,246°C; boiling point 2,061°C; specific gravity 7.21 to 7.44; valence 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. See Periodic Table.


A light, silvery-white, moderately hard metallic element that in ribbon or powder form burns with a brilliant white flame. Obtained chiefly from magnesite, dolomite, and bodies of salt water, it is used in structural alloys, pyrotechnics, flash photography, and incendiary bombs. Atomic number 12; atomic weight 24.305; melting point 650°C; boiling point 1,090°C; specific gravity 1.738 (at 20°C); valence 2. See Periodic Table.


(uncountable) A metallic chemical element (symbol Mn) with an atomic number of 25, not a free element in nature but often found in minerals in combination with iron, and useful in industrial alloy production.


The chemical element (symbol Mg) with an atomic number of 12. It is a light, easily flammable, silvery-white alkaline earth metal.


(countable) A single atom of this element.


A light silver-white metallic element of atomic number 12, malleable and ductile, quite permanent in dry air but tarnishing in moist air. It burns, forming (the oxide) magnesia, with the production of a blinding light (the so-called magnesium light) which is used in signaling, in pyrotechny, or in photography where a strong actinic illuminant is required. Its compounds occur abundantly, as in dolomite, talc, meerschaum, etc. Symbol Mg. Atomic weight, 24.305. Specific gravity, 1.75.


An element obtained by reduction of its oxide, as a hard, grayish white metal, fusible with difficulty (melting point 1244° C), but easily oxidized. Its ores occur abundantly in nature as the minerals pyrolusite, manganite, etc. Symbol Mn. Atomic number 25; Atomic weight 54.938 [C=12.011].


A light silver-white ductile bivalent metallic element; in pure form it burns with brilliant white flame; occurs naturally only in combination (as in magnesite and dolomite and carnallite and spinel and olivine)


A hard brittle gray polyvalent metallic element that resembles iron but is not magnetic; used in making steel; occurs in many minerals


What is the primary role of manganese in steel production?

Manganese is utilized in steel production to enhance its strength, toughness, and resistance to wear and damage.

Is manganese considered an essential mineral for human health?

Yes, manganese is essential for health, playing a role in bone formation, blood clotting, and reducing oxidative damage.

Why is magnesium included in dietary supplements?

Magnesium is included in supplements due to its role in muscle function, nerve transmission, and prevention of conditions like osteoporosis.

Are manganese and magnesium found in the Earth’s crust?

Yes, both manganese and magnesium are found in the Earth’s crust and are mined for various industrial and health applications.

Does manganese play a role in the function of batteries?

Yes, manganese is often utilized in batteries, particularly alkaline ones, due to its effectiveness in the battery's cathode material.

Is magnesium involved in the process of photosynthesis?

Yes, magnesium is a component of chlorophyll and plays a critical role in the photosynthesis process in plants.

Is magnesium found in common fruits and vegetables?

Yes, magnesium is found in various foods, including green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

What are some industrial applications of magnesium?

Magnesium is used in various industries, notably in aerospace for its lightweight and strength, and in the creation of flares and fireworks.

What is manganese commonly used for?

Manganese is widely used in steel production and in alkaline batteries.

Is magnesium found in the human body?

Yes, magnesium is found in the human body and is vital for numerous biochemical reactions.

Can magnesium be used to create intense light sources?

Yes, magnesium can be used in flares and fireworks to produce bright, white light due to its ability to burn in the presence of nitrogen and oxygen.

What are some common alloys or compounds of manganese in industrial applications?

Manganese is commonly alloyed with steel and used in compounds like manganese dioxide in batteries.

How does magnesium react with water?

Magnesium reacts slowly with cold water and rapidly with hot water, releasing hydrogen gas.

Can manganese be found in everyday consumer products?

Yes, manganese can be found in products like batteries and is sometimes included in health supplements.

Can manganese be found in drinking water?

Yes, manganese can be found in some drinking water sources, and excessive levels can impact its taste and color.

How does magnesium benefit the human body?

Magnesium is vital for many bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function, regulating blood pressure, and supporting the immune system.

Is manganese toxic in high amounts?

Yes, exposure to high levels of manganese, particularly via inhalation, can be toxic and impact health negatively.

How does the body absorb manganese?

Manganese is absorbed through the diet, typically via the consumption of nuts, legumes, seeds, and whole grains.

What is the impact of magnesium deficiency in humans?

Magnesium deficiency can lead to various issues, including muscle twitches, weakness, fatigue, and in severe cases, irregular heartbeat.

Can magnesium and manganese be harmful in excessive amounts?

Yes, both magnesium and manganese can cause adverse health effects when consumed or exposed in excessive amounts.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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