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Science >> Chemistry for Kids >> Periodic Table
<---Helium       Beryllium--->

Elements for Kids

Lithium

The element lithium

  • Symbol: Li
  • Atomic Number: 3
  • Atomic Weight: 6.94
  • Classification: Alkali metal
  • Phase at Room Temperature: Solid
  • Density: 0.534 grams per cm cubed
  • Melting Point: 180.54°C, 356.97°F
  • Boiling Point: 1342°C, 2448°F
  • Discovered by: Johann August Arfvedson in 1817


Lithium is part of the alkali metal group and can be found in the first column of the periodic table right below hydrogen. Like all alkali metals it has a single valence electron that it readily gives up to form a cation or compound.

Characteristics and Properties

At room temperature lithium is a soft metal that is silvery-white in color. It is the least dense of the solid elements and is the lightest of all the metals. It has the highest specific heat capacity of any solid element.

Lithium is very reactive and flammable. It needs to be stored in mineral oil as it will react with air or water. It can cause burns if it comes into contact with the skin.

Lithium's single valence electron allows it to be a good conductor of electricity. It is flammable and can even explode when exposed to air and water. However, it is less reactive and explosive than the other alkali metals.

Where is lithium found on Earth?

Because it is so reactive, lithium is not found in its pure form in nature. However, it is found throughout the world in a variety of areas including seawater, mineral springs, and igneous rocks.

How is lithium used today?

Lithium is used in a variety of applications. Probably the one you are most familiar with is lithium batteries. Around 27% of lithium used for industry is used in batteries. Another major application is in the manufacture of ceramics and glass. Other applications include lubricating greases, high performance aircraft materials, and anti-depression drugs.

How was it discovered?

Lithium was first detected as an element by Swedish chemist Johann August Arfvedson in 1817 when he was analyzing petalite ore. It was isolated in its pure form a year later by English chemist Humphry Davy.

Where did lithium get its name?

Lithium comes from the Greek word "lithos" meaning "stone" or "rock". It was named by Johann Arfvedson (who also discovered it).

Isotopes

Lithium has seven isotopes of which two are stable. When Lithium is found naturally it occurs as a mixture of the two stable isotopes.

Interesting Facts about Lithium

More on the Elements and the Periodic Table

Elements
Periodic Table

Alkali Metals
Lithium
Sodium
Potassium

Alkaline Earth Metals
Beryllium
Magnesium
Calcium
Radium

Transition Metals
Scandium
Titanium
Vanadium
Chromium
Manganese
Iron
Cobalt
Nickel
Copper
Zinc
Silver
Platinum
Gold
Mercury
Post-transition Metals
Aluminum
Gallium
Tin
Lead

Metalloids
Boron
Silicon
Germanium
Arsenic

Nonmetals
Hydrogen
Carbon
Nitrogen
Oxygen
Phosphorus
Sulfur
Halogens
Fluorine
Chlorine
Iodine

Noble Gases
Helium
Neon
Argon

Lanthanides and Actinides
Uranium
Plutonium

More Chemistry Subjects

Matter
Atom
Molecules
Isotopes
Solids, Liquids, Gases
Melting and Boiling
Chemical Bonding
Chemical Reactions
Radioactivity and Radiation
Mixtures and Compounds
Naming Compounds
Mixtures
Separating Mixtures
Solutions
Acids and Bases
Crystals
Metals
Salts and Soaps
Water
Other
Glossary and Terms
Chemistry Lab Equipment
Organic Chemistry
Famous Chemists


Science >> Chemistry for Kids >> Periodic Table







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