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June 27th 2016

What is the most abundant metal in the world? Aluminium is the most common metal found in the Earth's crust, and the third most abundant element.

Iron is the fourth most abundant element in the crust, but makes up 34% of the Earth's mass. Although there is more aluminium in the crust, it is much lighter than iron and therefore less abundant by mass. However, in terms of surface availability or number of atoms it is considered more abundant.

What Is Metal Made Of?

Some metals, such as platinum, copper, gold and silver, are found in their pure elemental form. Other metals, such as bronze and brass, are made by combining two different metals. Copper and tin, for example, are smelted together to make bronze, which is an alloy of the two.

What Is The Most Commonly Used Metal In The World?

Steel is the most commonly used metal in the world today, widely used by the building industry. An alloy of iron and other elements, steel has the benefits of high tensile strength combined with low cost which make it perfect for use in construction. It is used in the construction of roads, railways, infrastructure, appliances and buildings and most large, modern structures are supported by a steel skeleton.

What are the Most Common Metals?

The Earth’s crust is made up of a number of common elements found in the universe, with metallic elements making up over 25.4% of the Earth’s crust. Each of these elements has a different application within the world of metals, with some commonly being used to create structural metals, and others being used for chemical reactions. 

A pie chart depicting the elements of the Earth's crust

1. Aluminium

Aluminium has the highest concentration of any metallic element in the Earth’s crust, accounting for 8.23% of all elements in the crust.

Aluminium has a very low density, meaning it is an extremely light metal, and is also non-toxic, has high thermal conductivity, high corrosion resistance, and is easily reshaped and formed. It is approximately three times lighter than steel, but features a higher strength-to-weight ratio. For this reason it is an important material for making transport vehicles, particularly aerospace vehicles, cars and trains, as well as window frames, beer kegs, and kitchen utensils. 

2. Iron

Iron is one of the most abundant metals on Earth, constituting about 5.6% of the Earth's crust, and is primarily found in various minerals, with the most common being hematite and magnetite.

Humans have been using iron for centuries, and it remains a crucial metal in various industries such as aerospace, defence, and motor vehicles. The annual global iron production is staggering, reaching hundreds of millions of metric tons. This metal is indispensable in the production of steel, which is used in construction, transportation, and countless other applications.

It has a relatively high melting point and is malleable, allowing it to be shaped into various forms. However, iron is prone to corrosion, leading to the development of stainless steel, which incorporates chromium to resist rust and corrosion.

3. Calcium

An abundant element in the Earth's crust, constituting approximately 3-4.2% of crust materials, calcium is commonly found in minerals like limestone, gypsum, and fluorite.

Calcium is vital for living organisms, particularly for the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth. While the annual usage of pure calcium metal is relatively low, calcium compounds are extensively used in industries such as construction, agriculture, and pharmaceuticals.

Calcium is a reactive metal that easily forms compounds. It is an essential element for life, playing a crucial role in various biological processes. Calcium carbonate, derived from limestone, is widely used as a building material and in industries such as paper production.

4. Sodium

Sodium is a fundamental element for life, playing a vital role in nerve function and fluid balance. While the annual usage of metallic sodium is limited, sodium compounds are extensively used in the chemical industry, particularly in the production of sodium hydroxide and sodium carbonate.

5. Magnesium

Magnesium is used in various industries, including aerospace, automotive, and healthcare. The annual usage of magnesium is substantial, as it is employed in the production of lightweight alloys, pyrotechnics, and as a supplement for human health. It makes up around 2.3% of the Earth’s crust, and is a light and strong metal with excellent corrosion resistance. It is commonly alloyed with other metals to enhance their mechanical properties. Magnesium compounds are also used in various applications, such as in the production of refractory materials.

6. Potassium

Potassium is a relatively abundant element in the Earth's crust, constituting about 2.1% of it. It is commonly found in minerals like sylvite and carnallite.

Potassium is crucial for the proper functioning of living cells and is an essential nutrient for plants and animals. While the metallic form of potassium has limited industrial applications, potassium compounds are used in fertilisers, detergents, and the production of glass.

7. Titanium

Titanium is rare compared to other materials in the crust, making up only around 0.6% of all materials.

Titanium is highly valued for its exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance, and biocompatibility. The annual usage of titanium is significant in industries such as aerospace, medical implants, and the production of pigment for paints.

What Is The Most Expensive Metal In The World?

Contrary to popular belief, the most expensive metal in the world is not platinum or gold. It is Californium 252, which weighs in at US$27 million per gram. Compare this to the price of platinum at US$60 per gram and gold at US$56 per gram and you can see the difference.

What Is The Strongest Metal In The World?

In terms of tensile strength, the strongest natural metal in the world is tungsten. With an ultimate strength of 1510 megapascals it possesses the highest strength of any natural metal and also has the highest melting point of any metal (that is unalloyed). If we widen the field to include alloys, then steel would be considered the strongest, although this is a field that is constantly evolving and changing. The hardest metal, using the Moh scale as the deciding factor, is chromium a key ingredient in stainless steel. Chromium is often used in chrome plating, which protects against corrosion and physical damage.

Discover more about the strongest metals in the world in our new blog post.



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