What is Metal?

It is not easy to define what a metal is. Physically, a metal is a substance that has a bright lustre and is a good conductor of heat and electricity. Metals have varying degrees of hardness, density, malleability, and ductility. (Malleability concerns being able to be rolled out and hammered. Ductility has to do with being drawn out, as into wire).

Metal has a definite melting  point and will fuse with other metals  to form "alloys". With the exception of mercury, all metals are solids at ordinary temperatures. Some metals are found in the pure state, but most of them are found in combination with other elements. These metals are in the form of sulphides, oxides, carbonates, and silicates, usually mixed with rock and earthy materials.

Some of the common metals found in combination in  ores are lead , zinc, iron, copper, chromium, nickel, and mercury. Some metal are so rare that tons of ore must be treated to get even a small amount of the pure metal. Radium of one of these. The science of recovering metals from their ores is called "metallurgy".


Many metals, when they are in the pure state, have properties that are undesirable. This is why most of the metals commonly used today are either alloys or compounds. Examples of alloys are table silver, gold coins, and aluminium pans. Pure iron is too soft to be of much value, so it is used most frequently as steel, which is a compound.

There are few metals which, in my amounts, are necessary to animal life. Among these are iron, potassium , calcium, magnesium, and sodium. The body even uses minute quantities of copper, aluminium  and manganese.  

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