13 Metals

by Deb on January 20, 2011

Metals make the world go around.  Or at least culture – there’s a reason the Stone Age lasted for a couple of million years but we’re here just a few thousand years after the first metals were used.  Metals make all sorts of amazing things possible, from the internet to cars to pins inside us to spaceships.  I’ve included the element symbols in the list, many don’t match the common names because they come from the latin names.

  1. Gold Au – A noble metal, which means it can be found as a metal in nature.  It’s usually used for jewellery because it is rare and expensive, but it is also a very good electrical conductor so is used in computer chips.  gold
  2. Silver Ag – The most abundant noble metal, it is the best conductor of heat and electricity.  It’s widely used for both jewellery and in industry. Silver
  3. Copper Cu – The first metal used by people, it makes bronze when alloyed with tin and brass when alloyed with zinc.  Today it is extremely important as the basis of the electrical network.   Copper
  4. Iron Fe – Iron itself rusts very easily but as steel it is the most important metal, used for everything from building to knives. Iron
  5. Aluminium Al – Aluminium is abundant, light and easy to work so it is used for all sorts of things from drink cans and foil to cooking utensils.  It is easily recycled. Aluminium
  6. Chromium Cr – One of the metals often added to steel to give it different properties it is a very bright silver colour.  It is often used to plate other metals to protect them from corrosion. Chromium
  7. Calcium Ca – It isn’t found as a metal in nature because it is highly reactive, it is extremely important to living things as a major component of bones and shells. Calcium
  8. Tin Sn – Very common, soft and easily worked, which is why it was one of the first metals people could use.  It is resistant to corrosion so often used to protect other metals. tin
  9. Zinc Zn – Zinc was used in brass long before it was isolated on its own.  Today it’s most important industrial use is in galvanising, coating iron and steel to stop corrosion.  It is also an essential nutrient used in a lot of enzymes, zinc deficiency is a major public health issue in the developing world and contributes to around 800,000 child deaths every year. Zinc
  10. Tungsten W – Tungsten has been important for many years but is now being phased out.  It is what the elements of incandescent light bulbs are made from, it works because it has a very high melting point and the element gets so hot it glows.   Tungsten
  11. Palladium Pd – Another noble metal, it could become more important with green energy because it absorbs, stores and releases hydrogen.  Hydrogen would be a useful fuel because it burns with only water as a by-product.  It is very useful as a catalyst for chemical reactions. Palladium
  12. Nickel Ni – It is often used for plating and in coins because it is fairly inert, but many people react to it. Nickel
  13. Titanium Ti – Light but extremely strong, it is used in steel and with other alloys.  It is very important in the aerospace industry and has even been used for submarines.  Because it is strong, inert and corrosion resistant it is used for plates, screws and replacement joints inside the human body. Titanium

Metals – just imagine what life would be like without them!

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Colleen - Sunrise Learning Lab January 20, 2011 at 9:51 am

Very cool post! We have a neat book about the elements called The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every known Atom in the Universe so I am going to have to bookmark this post so that as we cover the metals, we can refer back to it and can link back to it as well. As always, I love your posts!
Thanks for sharing.
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Janet January 20, 2011 at 12:52 pm

why are some of the metal’s names on the Periodic Chart their first two letters and others letters that seemingly have nothing to do with the name…like Silver – Ag? I presume Iron – Fe is from ferrite?


Deb January 20, 2011 at 1:05 pm

When a lot of the symbols were being decided Latin was still the important academic language, so a lot of the older elemental symbols come from the latin names.
Silver = Argentum
Gold = Aurum
Tin = Stannum
Copper = Cuprum
Iron = Ferrum
Tungsten = Wolfram, that one is actually German.

We still have a lot of words based on those roots, such as argent and aura.


Shailender @ Romantic Getaways January 20, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Really interesting info about metals. I never give much attention but nice to read about them.
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A Redhead Named Sam January 20, 2011 at 10:54 pm

What an informative post, thank you!


Xakara January 20, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Informative and intriguing as usual!

Happy TT,

13 Comforts


CountryDew January 20, 2011 at 11:53 pm

I enjoyed reading this and thinking about metals. I love reaching about alchemy in fantasy books – metals to gold – and have always found that an interesting idea. I did not know silver was the most abundant metal. I wonder how one finds that in nature, other than in a mine?
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Deb February 12, 2011 at 10:02 am

I hadn’t thought of it that way either, but if all the common ones are ores, that would make silver the most common as a metal. It can be panned from streams alluvially the same as gold, but I think it’s mostly mined.
And this is only in the crust – most of the earth’s core is iron and nickel.


Harriet January 21, 2011 at 1:22 am
Mama Zen January 21, 2011 at 3:18 am

This is really interesting!
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Alice Audrey January 21, 2011 at 4:00 am

I hadn’t realized calcium counted as a metal.


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