Chemistry

Iron Facts



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There was the Iron age, which was the dawn of civilization, and the Iron Man refers to an athletic competition that is really tough.  There is also the Iron Maiden for torture.  With all this reference to iron, what exactly is iron and why is it so interesting?

First, the chemical symbol for Iron is actually Fe, and means Ferrum.  Iron is a transition metal and silvery white.  It only looks red when it bonds with oxygen to produce ferric oxide, the scientific name for rust, or the red color found in blood!  Blood is composed mainly of water and iron.    Iron has an atomic weight of  55.847 and is number 26 on the periodic chemistry table.

Iron is considered the fourth most common element on the planet.  Iron is found almost everywhere and has been known, and used since prehistoric times.  The Egyptians started the purifying and commercial use of Iron over 6000 years ago!  It melts at high temperatures, but not to high, and can be shaped as well as mixed with other metals and compounds to make other types of metals.  It is because of the ease with which it can be shaped that that iron was first used for making knives and weapons.

Iron is also one of the most important elements in nature and essential for many biological functions.  Without Iron, there would be virtually no life on Earth as we know it.  All higher animals and many plants need iron for their bodily functions!  Only a few crustaceans such as the horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) and Mr. Spock do not have iron based blood!

Iron is magnetic.  The magnetic principles are what allows compasses and magnet to be formed.  By pointing a solid piece of Iron to the north and striking sharply several times, you will align the atoms and the iron becomes magnetic!  This was a way of using iron to make compasses it the past, but also explains why you can weaken a magnet by dropping it.

Iron is also an excellent transmitter of electricity, thus was used for wiring.  It also though means that you should avoid standing near anything made of iron during an electrical storm!

Two of the best websites about Iron are About.com:Chemistry and the UK site, Facts about Iron.

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  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://chemistry.about.com/od/elementfacts/a/iron.htm
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.facts-about.org.uk/science-element-iron.htm