10 Shiny Facts about Aluminum
For most of us, aluminum is just something we come across in the kitchen occasionally. It’s commonly used in all kinds of products we use each and every day – whether that’s wrapping food, or whether it’s part of our furniture, millions of us rely on aluminum every day. However, there’s more to this metal than meets the eye! Here are some fun facts about aluminum you’ll want to remember.
1. Aluminum or aluminum?
If you live in the US, then you’re probably used to saying and even spelling ‘aluminum’. As it happens, we are pretty much the only ones in the world to do that! Back in 1925, the ACS (American Chemical Society) adopted the American-English version. However, the rest of the world or the IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) chose to use ‘aluminum’. Both are commonly used today, with aluminum being the chosen term for Northern America!
2. What is aluminum?
aluminum is a silver metal with the symbol Al, carrying the atomic number 13 on the periodic table. As widespread as this metal is, it can be found extremely rarely in its pure form in nature!
3. How exactly is aluminum made?
The first step in making aluminum is mining the mineral known as bauxite. The mineral is then crushed down, dried, ground into tiny pieces, and mixed up with water. Then, alumina is poured into reduction cells at 1,742º F, then zapped with electric currents during induction. The aluminum is then cast into ingots and shipped out, ready to go.
4. Who invented aluminum, and when?
Aluminum as a metal dates all the way back to about 1825, when physicist Hans Christian Ørsted first discovered it. It made it to industrial production in around 1856 thanks to the work of French chemist Henri Étienne Sainte-Claire Deville.
5. More precious than gold?
Believe it or not, for the longest time, aluminum was seen to be even more precious than gold! Emperor Napoleon III was known for treating his guests to aluminum cutlery and plates. Yes, the very same aluminum we cook our pizzas on today!
6. It’s the most widespread metal on Earth.
Despite being a rare sight out in nature, aluminum is the most widespread metal on earth! It is also the third most common chemical element on Earth. It follows oxygen and silicon in this – and its ubiquitousness is down to the fact you’ll spot it combined in minerals, such as cryolite (and bauxite, which is typically used in the production process). Much aluminum makes up the Earth’s crust, too.
7. Where did the term “aluminum” come from?
The term ‘aluminum’ comes from the Latin ‘alumen’, which refers to aluminum sulfates. These sulfates have long been used for cooking, medicine, and even to clean water!
8. It’s a surprisingly light metal.
One of the best things about aluminum is its weight! It weighs just a third of steel, making it easier to transport and use.
9. Why do we use aluminum foil for cooking?
Aluminum foil is great at reflecting both light and heat. This means that it traps both cold and warmth under its cover, making it ideal for preserving food!
10. Other common uses of aluminum include…
Aluminum is also used in light fittings, food wrappings, emergency blankets, tables, chairs, and window frames. And, thanks to its light-reflecting properties, aluminum is also commonly used to help build telescopes!
FAQs about Aluminum
What is aluminum made of?
Aluminum as we know it is technically derived from bauxite, which is then turned into hydrated aluminum oxide. The hydrated aluminum oxide is then mixed with silica and iron oxide to ship as aluminum.
Does aluminum rust?
No, aluminum does not rust. However, it does corrode over time. It is pretty well protected against corrosion, but poor storage and care can speed up its deterioration.
Is it safe to use aluminum foil for cooking?
Generally speaking, yes, it is safe to use aluminum foil in cooking! While it may increase the aluminum content in your system when consumed through food (which, if overdone, can be very dangerous), risks are negligible.
Do you know any interesting facts about aluminium? Share them in the comments below!
This page was last modified on January 9, 2023. Suggest an edit