Chemical Properties of Iron

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Chemical Properties of Iron

Iron is one of the most important elements in the periodic table. This article enlists its chemical properties.

Iron is one of the most widely used chemical elements in the world, and it accounts for nearly 95% of the total production of metals. Owing to its cost-effectiveness and high strength, it is used in a variety of applications. It is used in engineering applications, construction of large ships, and structural buildings. These days, it is even used in the manufacturing of cast iron cooking appliances. It is one of the oldest used metals, and it has been in existence since the human civilization came into inception. The chemical properties of iron impart to it numerous qualities that make it suitable for some purposes, while unsuitable for several others.

Chemical Properties

The electronic configuration of iron – the element, is [Ar]4s23d6, and it has a total of 14 known isotopes. Iron is the 4th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, and it is an integral chemical element found in the human body. It is placed in the first transition series of the periodic table, and is known to be an important transition metal. It mainly exists in the +2 and +3 oxidation states. Iron (II) compounds are known as ferrous, while iron (III) compounds are known as ferric. Iron (II) compounds are light green in color, while iron (III) compounds are orange/brown in color. It also occurs in a higher oxidation state of +6, in the compound potassium ferrate (K2FeO4).

Iron compounds are produced on a large scale in industries. Ferrous Sulfate, FeSO47H2O and Ferric Chloride, FeCl3 are two of its compounds which are produced on a very large scale. One of the chemical properties of iron is that it easily gets oxidized in open air, and this is why many compounds of iron (II) get oxidized into iron (III).

Iron is a very active metal, and on reaction with oxygen and moisture in the air, it forms rust, or Fe2O3. Rusting is known to be a major disadvantage of this metal; however, with improvement in science, rust removal has been made possible by methods like galvanization, electroplating, and painting.

Iron is the only naturally occurring substance that has magnetic properties. Magnetism is, in fact, one of its most remarkable properties. Owing to the structure of this metal, it exhibits numerous magnetic properties. Structures that are similar to it in chemical bonding, exhibit properties of ferromagnetism, antiferromagnetism, and ferrimagnetism.

The Pauling scale suggests that iron has an electronegativity equal to 1.8. Its boiling point is 2,862 degrees Celsius (approximately), and its melting point is 1,538 degrees Celsius (approximately) . Since it is a transition metal, it has strong attractive forces between its atoms, and they’re only weakened when subjected to very high temperatures. This is the reason behind its high melting and boiling points. Also, owing to the strong attractive forces between atoms, it has a particularly high density of 7.9 gm/cm3. It is an important component of meat, wheat products, potatoes, and vegetables. As a mineral, it is an important requirement for biological functions. From microorganisms to human beings, it is important for all. In the human body, it appears in the hemoglobin molecules.

Iron is generally alloyed with various other metals and numerous carbon containing compounds. By changing carbon content, it can be used to manufacture stainless steel. Its chemical properties are varied by changing external temperature and pressure, so that it can be employed for various purposes. Due to its unique properties, it is extensively used in various industries.

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