What is Iron? | Definition, Properties, Compounds, & Facts

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What is Iron?

Iron is the first element in the eighth column of the periodic table. It is classified as a transition metal. The iron atom has 26 electrons and 26 protons with 30 neutrons occurring in the most abundant isotope. It is the sixth most abundant element in the universe.

Highlights of 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

In its pure form, iron is a rather soft gray metal. It is very reactive and susceptible to corrosion or rust. It is malleable and a good conductor of electricity and heat.

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

Iron becomes much harder when alloyed with other elements such as carbon. Iron can be found in four isotropic forms. The most stable form of iron at room temperature is alpha iron, commonly known as ferrite.

Where on Earth is Iron found?

Iron is the most abundant element on Earth. Earth’s core is mainly made of iron-nickel alloy. Iron also makes up about 5% of the earth’s crust and is the fourth most abundant element.

Because iron oxidizes when exposed to air, most of the iron on Earth’s surface is found in iron oxide minerals such as hematite and magnetite. Iron is also found in meteorites which can sometimes contain large proportions of iron.

How is iron used today?

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

Steel made from iron is both cheap and very durable. It is used in the manufacture of all sorts of items, including cars, ships, buildings, and tools. Stainless steel is used in household appliances, kitchen utensils, surgical instruments, and industrial equipment.

Iron also plays an important role in biology. It is very important in plants for photosynthesis. In the human body, iron is the main component of blood that carries oxygen throughout the body from the lungs. How was it discovered?

Iron has been used by humans since ancient times. Molten iron was first used in ancient Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt. Iron began to replace copper during the Iron Age beginning around 1200 BC.

Where does iron get its name from?

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


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

Oxidation state

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

Interesting facts about iron

Casting is when an iron alloy is heated until a liquid is obtained and then poured into a mold.

It was invented in ancient China in the 5th century BC. Iron is mentioned in the book of Genesis in the Bible.

The top of the Chrysler Building in New York and the Arch in St. Louis are covered with stainless steel.

Food sources of iron include red meat, beans, fish, and green leafy vegetables.

While a certain amount of iron is important for good health, too much iron can be harmful to you.