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What is Iron

Iron (prounounced as EYE-ren) is a hard metal with a high commercial value, belonging to the family of transition metals. Represented by the chemical symbol Fe, it is chemically reactive with a tendency to corrode easily in air forming a reddish layer called rust when exposed to damp air [1, 2].

Iron Symbol

Where is Iron Found

It is the fourth most abundant metal in the earth’s crust, commonly associated with other mineral ores like hematite, taconite, and magnetite found in mining reserves of Ukraine, Brazil, Russia, Australia, and China. Its commercial production is carried out in a blast furnace by heating the ores with coke and limestone [1].


Origin of its Name: The name of the element comes from an Anglo-Saxon word ‘iron’.

Who Discovered it: Unknown

When, Where, and How was it Discovered

Around 3500 BC, the Egyptians were believed to be using iron objects. Hittites from Asia Minor were known to smelt the metal from its ores during 1500 BC. In 1722, René Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur, a French entomologist published a book, describing the significance of different iron alloys [1].

Iron Metal


Atomic number 26 [1]
CAS number 7439-89-6 [1]
Position in the periodic table [1] Group Period Block
8 4 d

Where is Iron on the Periodic Table

Classification, Properties and Characteristics of Iron

General Properties

Relative atomic mass 55.845 [1]
Atomic mass/weight 55.845 atomic mass units [3]
Molar mass/Molecular weight 55.845 g/mole [6]
Mass Number 56

Physical Properties

Color/physical appearance Silver gray [1]
Melting point/freezing point 1538°C (2800°F) [1]
Boiling point 2861°C (5182°F)  [1]
Density 7.87 g/cm3 [1]
Standard/Natural state at room temperature (solid/liquid/gas) Solid [1]
Malleability Yes
Ductility Yes
Hardness 4-5 Mohs [7]
Specific heat capacity 0.444 J g-1 oC [8]
Thermal conductivity 80.4 Wm-1K-1 [3]

Chemical Properties

Flammability Not flammable [9]
Oxidation states (numbers) 6, 3, 2, 0,-2[1]

Atomic Data of Iron (Element 26)

Electron configuration (noble gas configuration) [Ar] 3d64s2[1]
Atomic structure [5]
– Number of Electrons 26
– Number of Neutrons 30
– Number of Protons 26
Radius of atom
– Atomic Radius 2.04 Å [1]
– Covalent Radius 1.24 Å [1]
Ionization energy [1]


1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th
762.466 1561.876 2957.469 5287.4 7236 9561.7 12058.74

Iron Atomic Structure (Bohr Model)

What are the Common Uses of Iron

  • Iron is used in the manufacture of different types of steel by alloying with other elements like carbon, nickel, chromium, and tungsten for making cutting equipment, bicycle chains, rifle barrels, transmission towers, bridge girders, and reinforced concrete [1].
  • Stainless steel containing a high percentage of iron along with other metals has enormous strength and better function that’s useful in the making of surgical instruments, paper clips, cutlery, ball bearings, and jewelry [1, 2].
  • Another form of Fe called wrought iron obtained by smelting is used to make carpenter tools, lifting hooks, chains, fence, and gates [10].
  • Iron fillings are applicable in electromagnetism science experiments to assess the strength of magnets as well as in power metallurgy, artwork, fireworks, and sand blasting [11].
  • Fe acts as an efficient catalyst is some industrial chemical processes such as Haber process and Fischer-Tropsch [1].

Iron Bar

Does the Element Have Any Toxic Effects

Accidental ingestion of Fe has been associated with vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal issues, a common type of metal poisoning. Prolonged accumulation in the body could result in respiratory problems and heart disorders [12]. Inhalation of the metal dust or fumes can cause a severe pulmonary reaction [13].

Interesting Facts

  • Meteorites are believed to have high iron content [5].
  • Iron was used as a magnetic metal by ancient navigators in the form of lodestones for making compasses [3].
  • In an average human body, 4 grams of Fe is present, associated with hemoglobin that in turn helps in carrying oxygen to the lungs [1].
  • Iron Powder

Iron Metal Price

The cost of pure iron may vary between $0.24 and $0.30 per pound.



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