When I was growing up; the word “iron” brought images of something strong and unbreakable – a hard and dark metal. Now, you say “iron” and even Google comes back with “iron man”! Although, Robert Downey. Jr keeps elaborating that his suit is not actually made of iron but a titanium alloy; everyone relates something strong and indestructible to iron. And the name continues to stay! Iron is neither an uncommon metal nor an unknown one. And again, it is not just a metal; it is also a mineral that is essential in the human body.
Did you know that iron is one of the most commonly available metals on earth?! Read on to know more interesting facts.
Man has known iron for almost 5,000 years now. And the other commonly used metal – steel, an alloy of iron, has been under production for at least 4,000 years now. This has been deducted from archaeological records from Anatolia. By the way, even history has been defined by this metal – heard of the ‘Iron Ages’?
The word “iron” has its roots in the Anglo-Saxon word “iron” and the Scandinavian “iarn”. For all those who slept through their Chemistry classes, here is the info you missed – iron is represented by the symbol “Fe”. This is derived from the Latin word “ferrum”, which means iron.
Iron is the fourth most commonly present element on the earth. However, it is not found in its purest form on the earth’s surface as iron and oxygen react quickly and easily forming iron oxide. In other words, it forms what you simply refer to as “rust”.
Most of the iron we use is extracted from rocks and the earth’s crust. In fact, it is believed that the Earth’s crust is made of an iron and nickel alloy. In fact, it is believed that iron is the sixth most common element in our entire universe.
Saturn and Jupiter are believed to have cores that are predominantly made up of iron. Iron is also present in many stars; including, our very own power source – the Sun. Iron is formed in these stars, which have large mass, through a process called fusion.
Iron is not just important for our industries and trade sectors. It is also important for our optimal health. This mineral is essential to carry oxygen to all our body parts and is present in the form of hemoglobin. Now you know why iron deficiency makes you feel so sick and tired!
All the same, too much of this mineral can be lethal. Excessive iron reacts with peroxides to form free radicals that can impair your DNA, lipids, proteins and other cell components. In other words, it can make you terribly sick or even dead.
Humans aren’t the only living things that need iron; even, plants and animals do. The chlorophyll that gives plants its green color, and which is essential for its food production, uses iron.
The well-known Eiffel Tower in Paris is made from iron – wrought iron, to be more precise. Wrought iron is an alloy of iron that contains very little amounts of carbon. This was predominantly used before steel took over its place in the field of manufacture and trade. Did you know that the earliest wrought iron that man used was taken from fallen meteors?!
Although steel is an alloy of iron; in its purest form, it is considered to be a 1000 times stronger than iron! It is the amount of carbon, which is combined with iron, to make steel that determines the strength of this alloy.