What makes Tungsten the most refractive metal on Earth?

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tungsten metal periodic table number

Have you ever wondered how a light bulb beams and spreads light in our homes? Tungsten, the very small piece of metal that is present as a coil-shaped spiral in the Halogen bulbs has many unique properties which you might not know of. However, they have their very own place in this world and are here to remain. So, let us see some special characteristics of the most refractory metal in the world, Tungsten.

Tungsten is one of those transition metals and is located in Group six of the periodic table of chemical elements. It is extracted from the mineral Wolframite which is derived from a Swedish word.

wolframite ore tungsten
Wolframite Ore

When we examine the appearance, tungsten looks like a glistening metal. Should you hold a rod of tungsten in the hand you may experience one special characteristic. The density of tungsten is almost 20 grams per cubic centimetre which is very close to the density of gold. That’s why tungsten was used for creating gold bars. A couple of years back, there was the information of a few gold bars got a filling of tungsten inside, which naturally, is significantly cheaper than gold. Although the forgery caused scepticism among some scientists.

To clearly show to you how much is 20 gramme per cubic centimetre, one can compare a mass of a rod of tungsten and a pole of magnesium. It’ll turn out that the Tungsten rod is thicker than the latter. Also, metal tungsten has a very fat hardness and it also has very hard purity.

tungsten magnesium and aluminium comparison
Tungsten, Magnesium and Aluminium comparison

Nonetheless, this is not the main feature of this metal. To melt a piece of Tungsten, then you need to reach an extremely high temperature of 3422 degrees Celsius. That’s the reason this metal has been used as a filament in incandescent bulbs. However, if you expose the thin tungsten filament, it may overheat and subsequently break, thereby ceasing any production of lighting.

All of this is because of the fact that in atmosphere tungsten oxidises at high temperatures forming on its surface oxides of Tungsten. Also, the tungsten rod after calcination using a gas burner gets beautiful colored stains brought on by the various thickness of the oxide film on the metal surface.

tungsten rod after calcination
Tungsten Rod after Calcination

Also Read: Top 10 Scientifically impossible Places That Actually Exist

However, when it comes to light bulbs, it is not really about beauty, but more about the ability to actually produce light. Hence, the oxygen from above is pumped out and is replaced with a mixture of nitrogen and argon under reduced pressure. In these circumstances, the filament can shine for quite a long time.

different tungsten bulbs
Different Types of Tungsten Bulbs

Additionally, another fun fact, when taking pictures of the filament in macro, an individual can observe a difference between the more powerful old light bulbs when compared with the less powerful modern ones. But it ends up that the contemporary ones have a dual helix which makes filaments thinner, which creates more sections of uneven thickness in their own yarn, which then leads to the more rapid failure of the bulb.

tungsten in modern bulbs
Tungsten in Modern Bulbs

From a chemical perspective, Tungsten is rather stable. It is not soluble in hydrochloric or sulfuric acids and the most stable compounds of hexavalent tungsten such as for example, the sodium tungstate is used as a catalyst of epoxidation in organic synthesis, and in manufacturing of pigments.

Sodium tungstate is soluble in water, but instead of water If 30% of acetic acid is utilized then the so-called poison blue pigment is obtained that includes a very intense color. To do this, add a piece of magnesium into the test tube. Magnesium reacts with acetic acid releasing hydrogen, which in turns recovers Tungsten from the hexavalent state to Tungsten (III) oxide with an admixture of different oxides. The foreign particles of oxides are of a small size permitting them to form colloidal solution of glowing blue or blue-green color.

tungsten blue
Tungsten Blue

The created tungsten blue may be used as a great dye for Fabric, paper or other things which have the ability to absorb contaminants of Tungsten blue.

Nowadays, tungsten finds lots of uses. First of All, this metal is used in filaments for Halogen lamps, refractory electrons for argon arc welding, as well as in hard projectile cores and in certain military shells.

The most frequent material of the tungsten compounds is Tungsten carbide, which also goes by the title Pobedit, but mainly in Russia, which if you translate that to English means “will win”. It’s largely used as a cutter for machining stones or metals due to its high hardness.

tungsten carbide drill bits
Tungsten Carbide Drill Bits

Quality high hardness steel will almost always be composed of Tungsten. So that’s exactly what this metal tungsten is like, which can be found in practically every house and has the most fascinating and unique properties.

So now you know a little bit more about a few of the most unique metals.

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