Metals are everywhere, from the cars and trucks we drive to the phones in our pockets, it’s an invaluable resource that has enabled the rapid development of humankind since the Bronze Age, over 5,000 years ago. To celebrate the prominence of metals in our world, here are 10 interesting facts about metals that we think everyone should know!
1. Steel is the most recycled material in the world
Whether it’s beams for construction, box sections for fabrication, or sheets for automotive panels, over half of all the steel production worldwide is using recycled materials. This makes it an incredibly environmentally friendly material.
2. The word ‘Metal’ means ‘to quarry’
The Ancient Greek word ‘Metallon’, which means ‘To Quarry’ or ‘mine’, gives its name to the group of materials we specialize in: Metals.
Did you also know: the modern term ‘Plumbing’ comes from the historically used plumbing material Lead, for which the Latin word is Plumbum.
3. Metals are the most common element in the periodic table
Of the 118 elements listed in the periodic table, metals comprise 92 of those, with Lithium being the lightest, and Osmium being the heaviest. Osmium (symbol Os) is a transition metal twice as dense as Lead, if you filled a mailer envelope with Osmium (8” x 5” x 1.5”), it would weigh over 60 lbs. (27kg).
Lithium is an extremely reactive element that is now used widely in batteries for devices such as electric cars, mobile phones, laptops and more.
4. Aluminum was once more precious than Gold
In the late 1700s, Aluminum was more expensive than gold or silver, this was due to the difficulty in refining the metal. It’s said that Napoleon had Aluminum cutlery at his dinner tables, as the ultimate sign of wealth and power.
Nowadays aluminum is still sought after but is much more affordable. The most common applications of aluminum are automotive and aerospace parts, thanks to its lightweight properties.
5. Some metals melt very easily
The most commonly used metals; steel, aluminum and stainless steel, all melt at a minimum of 1200°F, but the metal Gallium will melt in the palm of your hand! Mercury is even more amazing as it melts at -38°F, meaning it’s liquid at the coldest of room temperatures!
For a long time, Mercury was used in thermometers to indicate temperature, due to both its consistent thermal expansion properties and its liquidity at room temperature. Its use has been replaced in recent years by more accurate and less toxic synthetic substances!
6. Stainless steel removes odors from your hands
Next time you cook with onion or garlic, to remove the smell from your fingertips, simply rub them on a stainless steel basin, counter or cooking utensil. The sulfur molecules are bound to the iron & chromium, removing the smell entirely.
7. Copper is the first material to have been worked by humans
A caveman dated to 3300 BCE (over 10,000 years ago) was found with an axe made of pure copper. It was also theorized that he refined the copper himself, as his hair showed the presence of Arsenic, a byproduct of the smelting process.
8. Brass is an Antimicrobial
The copper in brass – one of the main constituents – makes the metal antimicrobial, meaning germs that come into contact with it die. Since this discovery, Brass and Copper fittings are often used in hospitals and other public buildings.
9. Steel is 1,000 times stronger than Iron
Whilst being mostly constituted from it, Steel is considerably stronger than Iron. This demonstrates the incredible power of alloying; a minute percentage of Carbon added to Iron transforms the material.
10. There are 4 different types of steel
Carbon Steel, Alloy Steel, Stainless Steel and Tool Steel are the 4 main types of steel – Most of these are all made with the primary element being Iron, whilst incorporating carbon, manganese, chromium, molybdenum and many more alloying elements.
11. Metals Supermarkets offers over 8,000 different metal products
A bonus fact! Did you know that Metals Supermarkets stocks over 8,000 different types of metal products, from Steel, Stainless Steel, Brass, Aluminum, Tool steel and more, we can help with whatever your project requires!
Metal Supermarkets is the world’s largest small-quantity metal supplier with over 100 brick-and-mortar stores across the US, Canada, and United Kingdom. We are metal experts and have been providing quality customer service and products since 1985.
Visit one of our 100+ locations across North America today.