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Iron General

Name:Iron Symbol:Fe
Type:Transition Metal Atomic weight:55.847
Density @ 293 K:7.87 g/cm3 Atomic volume: 7.1 cm3/mol

Iron has been known since ancient times. The origin of the chemical symbol Fe is from the Latin word 'ferrum', meaning iron. The first iron used by humans is likely to have been sourced from fallen meteorites. Most objects that fall to earth from space are stony, but a small proportion are "iron meteorites" with iron contents of over 90 percent.

An Iron meteorite: Meteorites such as this one are believed to have been our ancestors' first source of iron. This is one fragment of the Sikhote-Alin meteorite. It is about 15 cm across and is composed of approximately 93 % iron, 6 % nickel and 1 % other elements.

The photograph shows the original meteorite surface, melted into thumb-print shapes during its flight through our atmosphere.

Iron States

State (s, l, g):solid
Melting point:1808.2 K (1535.1 °C) Boiling point:3023 K (2750 °C)

Iron Energies

Specific heat capacity:0.44 J g-1 K-1 Heat of atomization:415 kJ mol-1
Heat of fusion:13.80 kJ mol-1 Heat of vaporization :349.60 kJ mol-1
1st ionization energy:759.3 kJ mol-1 2nd ionization energy: 1561.1 kJ mol-1
3rd ionization energy: 2957.3 kJ mol-1 Electron affinity:15.7 kJ mol-1

Iron Oxidation & Electrons

Shells:2,8,14,2 Electron configuration:[Ar] 3d6 4s2
Minimum oxidation number:-2 Maximum oxidation number:6
Min. common oxidation no.:0 Max. common oxidation no.:3
Electronegativity (Pauling Scale):1.9 Polarizability volume:8.4 Å3

Iron Appearance & Characteristics

Structure:bcc: body-centered cubic Color:gray
Hardness: 4.0 mohs
Harmful effects:

Iron is considered to be non-toxic.


Iron is a ductile, gray, relatively soft metal and is a moderately good conductor of heat and electricity.

It is attracted by magnets and can be readily magnetized.

The pure metal is chemically very reactive and rusts readily in moist air, forming red-brown oxides.

There are three allotropic forms of iron, known as alpha, gamma, and delta.

Alpha iron, also known as ferrite, is the stable form of iron at normal temperatures.


Iron is the cheapest and most important of all metals - important in the sense that iron is overwhelmingly the most commonly used metal, accounting for 95 percent of worldwide metal production.

Iron is used to manufacture steel and other alloys important in construction and manufacturing.

Iron is also vital in the functioning of living organisms, transporting oxygen in blood via the hemoglobin molecule.

Iron Reactions

Reaction with air:mild, ⇒ Fe3O4 Reaction with 6 M HCl:vigorous,⇒ H2, FeCl2
Reaction with 15 M HNO3:passivated Reaction with 6 M NaOH:

Iron Compounds

Oxide(s):FeO, Fe2O3 (hematite), Fe3O4 (magnetite), Chloride(s):FeCl2, FeCl3

Iron Radius

Atomic radius:140 pm Ionic radius (1+ ion):pm
Ionic radius (2+ ion):77 pm Ionic radius (3+ ion):63 pm
Ionic radius (2- ion):pm Ionic radius (1- ion):pm

Iron Conductivity

Thermal conductivity:80.4 W m-1 K-1 Electrical conductivity:0.112 x 106 S cm-1

Iron Abundance & Isotopes

Abundance earth's crust:5.6 % weight, 2.1 % by moles
Abundance solar system:1000 parts per million by weight, 30 parts per million by moles
Cost, pure:$7.2 per 100g
Cost, bulk:$0.02 per 100g

Iron is not found free in nature but is found in iron ores such as hematite (Fe2O3), magnetite (Fe3O4) and taconite. Commercially, iron is produced in a furnace at temperatures of about 2,000 oC by the reduction of hematite or magnetite with carbon.


Iron has 24 isotopes whose half-lives are known, with mass numbers 46 to 69. Of these, four are stable, 54Fe, 56Fe, 57Fe and 58Fe. Over 91.7% of of naturally occurring iron is in the form of 56Fe.

Iron Other



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