We all know, iron is one such metallic element which has innumerable uses. Chemically, it is represented by the chemical symbol of Fe, and is categorized as a transition element in the periodic table. Iron is rarely found in its pure form on the surface of the earth; as it tends to get oxidized when it comes in contact with atmospheric oxygen. For this reason, most of its ores are in the form of iron oxides.
Role of Iron in Human Body
Iron is an important mineral required by the human body, and has a major role in the execution of various metabolic processes. It is a component of hemoglobin, which is present in the red blood cells. Hemoglobin is made up of iron and protein. It carries oxygen from the lungs to different parts of the body.
Iron is needed for the production of ATP molecules (adenosine triphosphate, the main source of energy in our body). Deficiency of iron will result in lack of energy and one will feel weak and tired. Moreover, as less amount of oxygen reaches different parts of the body, the various functions of the body will be adversely affected. Low iron levels in the body causes iron deficiency anemia. The condition has to be treated with the help of dietary supplements that contains iron in the form of iron gluconate.
Uses of Iron in Everyday Life
Iron can be used in so many ways mainly because of the fact that its properties can be changed according to our needs by alloying it with other metallic and nonmetallic substances. Thus, a large variety of steel with desired properties is obtained. There are about 27 different types of steel. In each of them, iron is combined with other elements which include carbon, chromium, nickel, silicon, molybdenum, and so on. Therefore, it can be said that the most important use of iron ore is in the manufacture of steel which has a wide range of use in industries. There are hardly any industries which do not use steel in any form.
Steel is essential for various construction work. This is because it has the strength that can withstand both high pressure as well as high temperature. The framework of many buildings, including sky scrapers and bridges, are built with alloyed steel. It is also used in the bodies or frames of heavy carriers like ships and heavy machinery. Some automobile parts and machine parts are also made up of steel. Tungsten steel is required for making cutting and drilling tools that can cut hard metals. An alloy of iron and niobium is exceptionally strong and is used for the construction of nuclear reactors.
There are several uses of iron in our homes; where we find it in the form of wrought iron and cast iron. This is because they have better resistance to rust formation; at the same time they can be molded very easily. Wrought iron is an excellent choice for making outdoor household things like decorative iron fencing, arbors, iron trellis, patio furniture, and so on.
On the other hand, cast iron is almost an indispensable part of our kitchens. Its uniform heating quality makes it an ideal material for manufacturing skillet. Properly seasoned cast iron cooking pots can last in the kitchen for generations. It is also used in many other types of cookware like cake pans, dutch ovens, cornbread trays, and so on. Stainless steel is used in kitchen cutlery, cookware, and various kitchen appliances.
Metallic iron possesses natural magnetic properties and hence, it is used for making permanent magnets as well as electromagnets. Iron chloride acts as a coloring agent, and is an important chemical component for making of various types of dyes, paints, and pigments. Iron arsenate is a compound present in insecticides and can protect plants from pest attack. Many water purification systems that are found in our kitchen sinks contain iron hydroxide.
Thus, you can see that iron has a significant impact on our day-to-day life, directly or indirectly. The main reason behind such a huge demand of this metal is that it is not very expensive as compared to other metals, but is also abundantly available on the surface of the earth.