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Basic Facts About Iron Iron is one of the most widespread elements on the Earth It makes up approximately 5 percent of the Earths crust Much of this iron is found in such small concentrations in other rocks however that it cannot be used economically for mining The chemical element iron is the fourth most common element in the Earths crust and the second most abundant metal Its chemical symbol Fe is taken from the Latin word ferrum Metal is chemically active and is found in nature combined with other elements in rocks and soils In the Earth iron occurs mainly in iron-oxidu ores One of these ores is lodestone or magnetite named for its property of magnetism Iron alloyed with nickel is also found in meteorites Physical and Chemical Properties Iron like other metals conducts heat and electricity it has a luster and forms positive ions in its chemical reactions Pure iron is fairly soft and can easily be shaped and formed when hot Its color is silvery white Iron is easily magnetized When combined with small amounts of carbon it becomes steel The crystal structure and magnetism of iron undergo changes when it is heated If an iron magnet is heated red hot it loses its magnetism but regains it when it is cooled Modern life depends greatly on iron the most widely used of all metals Iron usually in the form of steel is nearly always helping to do the job The concrete in highways and in towering buildings needs steel for added strength Transportation relies on the metal whether in the form of an iron horseshoe or as a special steel alloy in a vehicle sent into outer space A complete list of all the uses for iron and steel would seem endless and new uses are found each year Since the beginning of the Iron Age about 1000 BC the last and worst age of the world
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