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The Element Iron


"The Atom"

What is Iron? Origin / Meaning of the name Iron
The name iron is derived from the Etruscan word "aiser" meaning 'the gods' because the earliest iron was obtained from meteorites and meteorites fall from the sky. The Etruscans were a Mediterranean Iron Age civilization of ancient Italy until its assimilation into the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC.

The Properties of the Iron Element
Symbol of Element : Fe
Atomic Number : 26
Atomic Mass: 55.845 amu
Melting Point: 1535.0 °C - 1808.15 °K
Boiling Point: 2750.0 °C - 3023.15 °K
Number of Protons/Electrons : 26
Number of Neutrons : 30
Crystal Structure: Cubic
Density @ 293 K: 7.86 g/cm3
Color : silver-white that readily rusts

Origin / Meaning of the symbol for Iron (Fe)
The symbol for iron 'Fe' originates from the Latin word ‘ferrum’ meaning reddish-brown, in reference to its color. Iron appears silvery-gray before it is exposed to air, however, once it rusts, it become reddish brown on the surface.

What is Iron as on the Periodic Table? Definition of the Iron Element
A heavy malleable ductile magnetic silver-white metallic element that readily rusts in moist air, occurs native in meteorites and combined in most igneous rocks, is the most used of metals, and is vital to biological processes as in transport of Oxygen in the body. Steel is the best known alloy of iron. Refer to Iron Reaction for its reaction to Water, Oxygen & Acids. The Atomic Number of this element is 26 and the Element Symbol is Fe.

What is Iron? Periodic Table Group and Classification of the Iron Element
Elements can be classified based on their physical states (States of Matter) e.g. gas, solid or liquid. This element is a solid. Iron is classified as a "Transition Metal" which are located in Groups 3 - 12 of the Periodic Table. Nearly 75% of all the elements in the Periodic Table are classified as metals which are detailed in the List of Metals. Elements classified as Transition Metals are generally described as ductile, malleable, and able to conduct electricity and heat. For additional facts and information refer to Iron Properties.

Facts about the History and the Discovery of the Iron Element - A Metal of Antiquity
Iron was available to some of the oldest civilisations including the Ancient Egyptians, Ancient Greeks and the Ancient Romans. Iron is one of the metals referred to as one of the 'Metals of Antiquity'. The ancient 'Metals of Antiquity' together with their approximate dates of discovery and use are Gold (6000BC), Copper (9000BC), Silver (4000BC), Lead (6400BC), Tin (3000BC), Iron (1500BC) and Mercury (1500BC). The widespread use of this element lead to the period in World History called the Iron Age.

Occurrence of Iron
The element iron has long been known, since its ores are very abundant and it is not difficult to prepare the metal from them in fairly pure condition. It occurs in nature in many forms of combination, in large deposits as oxides, sulphides, and carbonates, and in smaller quantities in a great variety of minerals. Indeed, very few rocks or soils are free from small amounts of iron, and it is assimilated by plants and animals playing an important part in life processes.

What is Iron? Occurrence of the Iron Element
Obtained from iron ores
Tenth most abundant element in the universe
Pig iron has 4% – 5% Carbon
Cast iron contains 2% – 3.5% carbon and small amounts of manganese
Carbon steel contains between 0.5% and 1.5% carbon, with small amounts of manganese, Phosphorus, Sulfur and Silicon.

Abundances of the element in different environments
% in Universe 0.11%
% in Sun 0.1%
% in Meteorites 22%
% in Earth's Crust 6.3%
% in Oceans 3×10-7%
% in Humans 0.006%

Medical Uses of Iron - Health and Treatments
Interesting information is contained in the following list of Medical Uses of Iron, Health and Treatments.

  • Iron Deficiency and Anemia: Bleeding ulcers, hemorrhoids, or injury, are the most common causes of a deficiency of iron and anemia: Iron preparations, such as ferrous sulfate, may be necessary in the treatment of iron deficiency anemia

A useful reference providing information regarding the medical uses of iron, associated health issues and disorders and treatments using iron preparations.

Associated Uses of Iron
Production of steel - the best known alloy of iron
Medicine and Health Care - An iron deficiency can cause serious health problems in humans - Iron Sulfate is used to treat this medical condition
Iron metal is strong and quite cheap so used for structural and engineering purposes. Iron metal is used in the manufacture of:
Machine tools
Hulls of large ships
Machine parts

Cast iron
Cast iron is the product of the blast furnace is called cast iron. It varies considerably in composition, usually containing from 90 to 95% iron, the remainder being largely carbon and silicon with smaller amounts of phosphorus and sulphur. When the melted metal from the blast furnace is allowed to cool rapidly most of the carbon remains in chemical combination with the iron, and the product is called white cast iron. If the cooling goes on slowly, the carbon partially separates as flakes of graphite which remain scattered through the metal. This product is softer and darker in color and is called gray cast iron.

Properties of cast iron
Cast iron is hard, brittle, and rather easily melted (melting point about 1100°). It cannot be welded or forged into shape, but is easily cast in sand molds. It is strong and rigid but not elastic. It is used for making castings and in the manufacture of other kinds of iron. Cast iron, which contains the metal manganese up to the extent of 20%, together with about 3% carbon, is called spiegel iron; when more than this amount of manganese is present the product is called ferromanganese. The ferromanganese may contain as much as 80% manganese. These varieties of cast iron are much used in the manufacture of steel.

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