What is Lithium?

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What is Lithium?
Lithium carries the symbol Li in the periodic table of elements. It is a metal characterized by an exceptionally soft and silver-gray in color. The metal is considered exceptionally reactive and so it is used in a wide range of industrial applications. Industries use Lithium in the form of compounds and alloys. In the pharmaceutical industry, the salt extracted from the metal is used in the production of drugs for mood alteration.

It was in the 1800s when this abundant element came out to discovery. However, chemists have difficulty unraveling the intricacy of lithium. Through the works of a number of chemists, lithium was found to be the lightest element in its solid form with the number three on its atomic count. Lithium was also placed on top of all the metals in the alkaline group.

The metals included in the alkaline metal group have the same characteristic of being highly reactive when in their pure form. These metals must be handled carefully when in their pure form. However, metals are not found in its pure form. This is because elements are found to be combined with other elements forming a compound.

Lithium was originally known as ‘lithion’, which came from a Greek word for stone. Lithium was called ‘lithion’ maybe because it is found in stones or rocks. Specifically, igneous rocks are the main sources of lithium. The metal has no exact information about whether it has biological importance. However, if the metal is in the form of a trace element, it may have an important role biologically.

The metal is not known to be toxic. However, it can also be hazardous for human if exposed in large quantities. Moreover, it can even be more hazardous if it forms caustic tarnish through the process of oxidation. Just like any other metals, lithium is corrosive. To prevent corrosion, lithium must be stored in a non-reactive material or oil.

Lithium has a high melting point and it can hold extremely high temperature. Due to this ability, lithium melts very slowly. This characteristic makes lithium a good medium for heat transfer. Thus, it is found in glass, ceramics and alloys. Lithium has the capacity to store energy and so it is a great choice in battery production. Aside from being lightweight, it also has high potential for electrochemical processes. Another good use of the metal is for air purifiers. This metal has the ability to trap carbon dioxide. This property may be used in environments that are enclosed such as submarines and aircrafts.

The pharmaceutical industries also make use of lithium. However, lithium in its pure form cannot be. Pharmacologically, the salt extracted from the metal (lithium carbonate) is used. In the year 1970, United States Food and Drug Administration or FDA approved the use of lithium carbonate for drug production. The chemicals contained in lithium carbonate are found to useful in brain imbalances correction. Severe headaches can also be suppressed by the metal. However, since lithium can pose health dangers, doctors monitor the patients for lithium levels in the blood. This monitoring ensures that patients stay in a healthy condition.


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