5 Fun Facts About Chromium

Chromium is one of 91 metal elements on the periodic table. Featuring a lustrous chrome appearance, it’s used in a variety of applications. Motorcycles, for example, often feature chromium-coated components, whereas silverware may feature a similar type of chromium plating. These are just a few common applications for Chromium. To learn more about this lustrous metal, keep reading.

#1) It’s Used in Stainless Steel

It’s a little-known fact that stainless steel contains chromium. Also known as inox steel, stainless steel is made by smelting and mixing a combination of raw iron, chromium and carbon. The ratio of these ingredients varies depending on the type of stainless steel being produced. With that said, most types of stainless steel have a minimum chromium content of 11%.

#2) It Doesn’t Rust

Chromium is used in the production of stainless steel because of its natural anti-rusting properties. Rusting is a phenomenon that only occurs with iron. While stainless steel contains iron, chromium is used to shield the iron, thereby protecting it from rusting. The lustrous metal is typically added as a plating over stainless steel, at which point the chromium prevents oxygen from reaching the iron — something that could otherwise lead to rusting.

#3) It’s the Hardest Metal

Aside from its anti-rusting properties, chromium is exceptionally hard. In fact, it’s the world’s hardest metal based on the Moh’s Hardness Scale, with a rating of 9.0. It’s is harder than iron, stainless steel, tungsten and even titanium. With that said, chromium is still brittle, meaning it can break or shatter easily.

#4) It Reflects Nearly 70% of Visible Light

Chromium is prized for its lustrous appearance. Research shows that chromium reflects nearly 70% of visible light. When placed near a source of illumination, 70% of the visible light that strikes chromium will bounce off its source. Its reflective properties make it ideal for use in applications where aesthetics is a priority. It’s also important to note that chromium can reflect infrared (IR) light. In fact, it reflects nearly 90% of IR light.

#5) It Was Discovered In the 18th Century

Many people assume that chromium is a new metal that was just recently discovered, but this isn’t necessarily true. It was actually discovered back in the 18th century. In the late 1700s, French chemist Louis Nicolas Vauquelin was able to isolate chromium by baking crocoite ore samples in an oven. He later found trace amounts of chromium in precious gemstones. Since then, chromium has become a common and widely used metal.

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