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PROPERTIES AND USES OF METALS
The five most used metals in order of use are iron, aluminium, copper, zinc, and manganese.
Hard and strong
Solids (except mercury)
Shiny (when polished)
Good conductors of heat
Good conductors of electricity
Malleable and ductile
These properties make metals suitable for a large number of uses. However, some metals are
considered to be better than others in particular situations:
Copper, silver and gold are good conductors of electricity and ductile, which means that they can
be drawn out into a wire. This is why copper is used in electrical cables and circuits and gold and
silver are sometimes used for electrical contacts.
Iron and steel are both hard and strong. Therefore they are used to construct bridges, buildings
and motor cars. Iron is by far the most useful metal and makes up over 90% of all metal
production. The main disadvantage is that iron tends to rust.
Aluminium is a good conductor of heat and is malleable, which means it can be hammered out to
a shape. It is used to make thin cooking foil and saucepans. It is also used to make airplanes and
cans, as it is a low density metal.
Gold and silver are malleable, ductile, shiny and unreactive. They are used to make intricate
jewellery which keeps its good looks and does not tarnish.
Mixing a metal with one or more other elements can change it's properties. A mixture of a metal with
other elements is called an alloy. The properties of a metal are often improved by mixing, and alloys
have many important uses.
Alloy Mixture of Metals Improved Properties Uses
Steel Iron and carbon plus Stronger than pure iron Girders for buildings
other metals and car bodies
solder Tin and lead Lower melting point than Connecting electrical
pure metals circuits
duralumin Aluminium and copper Lighter than copper and Airplanes and alloy
stronger than aluminium wheels
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Chemical properties of metals
Metals are usually recognized by their physical properties. However, most metals have similar chemical
properties as well. The most important chemical reactions of metals are with oxygen, water and acids,
which are common substances found in nature. Although the chemical properties of metals are similar,
they do not all react in the same way.…read more
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Only a few metals, life gold and platinum, are unaffected by heating in air. These very unreactive metals
do not form compounds easily with any other element. Gold and platinum are ideal for making into
jewellery because they don't react with oxygen so stay shiny.
Metals and Water
Most materials on the earth's surface will at some time come into contact with water, metals react with
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