Not Commonly Known Uses of Elements
Where do you see chemistry? It’s all around us! Elements are the building blocks of all things along with the compounds they form. Learn about some of the less commonly known uses of elements.
Experiments & Activities
- Science Lab III—Emission Spectroscopy
Concoct your own Fourth of July sparkler with a mix of several metal elements.
- Green Eggs Solubility Activity
Cook up some green eggs and ham… or not. Two elements combine to form an unpleasant green coating on yolks of hard-boiled eggs. How can it be avoided?
- Colorful Iodine
Is it a lawn ornament? Is it a thermometer? Is it iodine? It’s all three!
- Determining Iodide Content of Salt
The label says your salt is “iodized.” Head to the kitchen to try an easy procedure to test your salt for this micronutrient.
- Periodic Table Ceiling
Perhaps the least known use of the elements on the periodic table—decorations for your classroom’s ceiling tiles.
- Instant Hot Air Balloon
Two elements come together to make one fun project. Create your own mini hot air balloon using a helium-filled aluminized Mylar balloon and foam cup.
- Wood's Metal
See if you can figure out why this alloy of four elements is the perfect choice for automatic fire sprinkler systems.
- In Which I Play with White Phosphorus
Watch as “one of the nastiest substances on Earth creates a beautiful glow.”
Articles & Information
- Periodic Table in Pictures and Words
Quick! What’s a common use for boron? Where would you find antimony in your car? Find the answers at a glance in this periodic table.
Ever eaten an M&M® candy? Then you’ve eaten a titanium compound. Find out in what part of the candy you’ll find it.
- Element 21 Golf
Fore! What element is driving a revolution in golf clubs and other sporting equipment?
- What the Vampire Said to the Horseshoe Crab
What do horseshoe crabs have in common with kings and noblemen? And what element is the reason why?
- Japan Aims to Bring Fastest Train in the World to U.S.
Feel the need for speed? A magnetic levitation train and its alloy magnets made of two elements can get you where you want to go.
- Discover Magazine—Molybdenum
This element can take a hit. Learn why molybdenum was in demand during World War I.
- Erbium Chandelier with Gilded Putto
Erbium + glass = cotton candy pink. Take a look at Dale Chihuly’s artistic results.
- How Exactly Does the World's Largest Emerald Form?
What element is needed to create a nearly 60,000 carat gem? Find out here!
- 7UP Facts
Have a refreshing glass of Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda!
- The Radium Girls
A simple job painting glowing dial instruments and watches turns deadly.
- The Science of the Silver Bullet
Uranium—it’s not just for nuclear reactors. Find out why this stuff is shot from “Tank Buster” aircraft.
- Tantalum Is the Most Important Element You've Never Heard of
What does tantalum have to do with gorillas and a civil war? Learn more about the problems connected with mining this element to use in your electronics.
- Osmium Resists the Squeeze
Thought diamond was the most incompressible material on earth? Osmium’s making a run on the title.
(all sites accessed April 2013)