Chemical Element: iron

(Anglo-Saxon: iron, the symbol is from Latin ferrum which also means iron; metal)

Chemical-Element Information

Symbol: Fe
Atomic number: 26
Year discovered: Prehistoric

Discovered by: Unknown.

  • The Assyrians and Egyptians made considerable use of iron.
  • Iron was known in prehistoric times. In the Bible, Genesis 4: 22, says that Tubal-Cain, seven generations from Adam, was an instructor of workers in iron and copper; and iron was utilized to make tools and weapons in the time of David.
  • Smelted iron artifacts have been identified from around 3000 B.C.
  • A remarkable iron pillar, dating to about A.D. 400, remains standing today in Delhi, India.
  • This solid pillar is wrought iron and about 7.5 meters high by 40 centimeters in diameter.
  • Corrosion to the pillar has been minimal despite its exposure to the weather since its construction.
  • Iron is a relatively abundant element in the universe.
  • It is found in the sun and many types of stars in considerable quantity.
  • Iron nuclei are very stable.
  • Iron is a vital constituent of plant and animal life, and is the key component of hemoglobin (blood).
  • The pure metal is not often encountered in commerce, but it is usually alloyed with carbon or other metals.
  • The pure metal is very reactive chemically, and rapidly corrodes, especially in moist air or at elevated temperatures. Any car owner knows this.
  • Iron metal is a silvery, lustrous metal that has important magnetic properties.
  • Iron ranks second in abundance among the metals and fourth in abundance among the elements.
  • The earth’s core is largely metallic iron, but in the crust the element has had an opportunity to react with other substances and the free metal is rarely found except in meteorites or disseminated as minute specula in basaltic rocks.

Name in other languages:

French: fer

German: Eisen

Italian: ferro

Spanish: hierro

Information about other elements may be seen at this Chemical Elements List.

A special unit about words that include chemo-, chem- may be seen here.