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the fourth most abundant element and the cheapest metal
Iron is a silvery-white metal in its pure state, but it is seldom seen in a pure state. The basic material for many manufactured items, iron has been used by man since prehistoric times. All plants, animals, and human beings need iron in their bodies to help them live. Making up part of the compound called hemoglobin, it carries oxygen in the blood stream.
The word iron is from the Old English iren. Its chemical symbol comes from its Latin name, ferrum.
Iron is one of the Second Transition Metals. Its atomic number is 26, its atomic weight is 55.85, and it has a specific gravity of 7.87. On the hardness scale, iron is in Group V, meaning that it can be cut with a sharp knife, but only with great difficulty. Iron melts at 1,535° C (2,795° F.), and boils at 3,000° C (5,432° F.). Iron will dissolve in water, but the process takes a very long time.
Iron is almost always found in the form of iron ores, with the principal ores being hematite, limonite, magnetite, siderite, and taconite. Russia is the world's leading producer of iron ore, with Australia and the United States in a relative tie for second place. Other major producers are Brazil, China, France, Canada, Sweden, India, and Venezuela.
This page was last updated on 01/16/2017.