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<---Manganese       Cobalt--->

Elements for Kids

Iron

The element iron

  • Symbol: Fe
  • Atomic Number: 26
  • Atomic Weight: 55.845
  • Classification: Transition metal
  • Phase at Room Temperature: Solid
  • Density: 7.874 grams per cm cubed
  • Melting Point: 1538°C, 2800°F
  • Boiling Point: 2862°C, 5182°F
  • Discovered by: Known about since ancient times


Iron is the first element in the eighth column of the periodic table. It is classified as a transition metal. Iron atoms have 26 electrons and 26 protons with 30 neutrons occuring in the most abundant isotope. It is the sixth most abundant element in the universe.

Characteristics and Properties

In its pure form iron is a fairly soft, grayish metal. It is very reactive and will readily corrode or rust. It is malleable and a decent conductor of electricity and heat.

Iron is the most naturally magnetic of the elements. Other naturally magnetic elements include cobalt and nickel.

Iron becomes significantly harder when alloyed with other elements such as carbon.

Iron can be found in four allotropic forms. The most stable form of iron at normal temperatures is alpha iron which is commonly known as ferrite.

Where is iron found on Earth?

Iron is the most abundant element in the Earth. The Earth's core is mostly made up of an iron-nickel alloy. Iron also makes up about 5% of the Earth's crust where it is the fourth most abundant element.

Because iron oxidizes when it comes into contact with air, most of the iron that is found on the surface of the Earth is in iron oxide minerals such as hematite and magnetite.

Iron is also found in meteorites which can sometimes contain a large percentage of iron.

How is iron used today?

Iron is used more than any other metal for producing metal alloys. The most important iron alloys include cast iron, pig iron, wrought iron, and steel. There are various alloys of steel, but they all contain iron as the main metal. Carbon is one of the main alloying elements mixed with iron to make steel. Other elements common in steel include manganese, phosphorous, sulfur, and silicon.

Steel from iron is both inexpensive and very strong. It is used in the production of all sorts of items including cars, ships, buildings, and tools. Stainless steel is used in household appliances, cookware, surgical instruments, and industrial equipment.

Iron also plays an important role in biology. It is important in plants for photosynthesis. In the human body iron is a major component of the blood which carries oxygen throughout the body from the lungs.

How was it discovered?

Iron has been used by people since ancient times. Smelted iron was first used in Ancient Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt. Iron began to replace bronze during the Iron Age which began around 1200 BC.

Where did iron get its name?

Iron gets its name from an Anglo-Saxon term. The symbol Fe comes from the Latin word for iron, "ferrum."

Isotopes

Iron occurs naturally in the form of four stable isotopes: 54Fe, 56Fe, 57Fe, and 58Fe. Around 92% of iron is 56Fe.

Oxidation States

Iron can exist in oxidation states from -2 to +6. The most common states are +2 and +3.

Interesting Facts about Iron


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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