Featuring the atomic number 13, aluminum is a silver-colored metal that’s used extensively in the manufacturing industry. It’s prized for its unique characteristics, making it a versatile material in the production of countless consumer and commercial products. Even if you’re seen and used aluminum, though, there are probably some things you don’t know about it. Below are five common myths about aluminum.
#1) It’s Uncommon
Aluminum is very common. In fact, it’s the single most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust. Research shows roughly 8% of the Earth’s crust consists of aluminum. That’s a higher concentration of aluminum than another metal. With that said, aluminum typically doesn’t occur naturally. Rather, it’s found in nearly 300 different minerals that are mined and then processed into aluminum.
#2) It Can Rust
Aluminum can corrode, but it can’t rust. Both rusting and corrosion are forms of oxidation-related stress that occur in metals. The difference is that rusting only occur in iron — as well as iron alloys like steel — whereas corrosion can strike any metal or alloy. Aluminum doesn’t contain iron, so it can’t rust. It can still corrode if not properly maintained, but aluminum is naturally protected against rusting because it lacks any iron.
#3) It’s Not as Versatile as Steel
Both steel and aluminum are highly versatile metals. Well, technically aluminum is a metal, whereas steel is an alloy. Jargon aside, both are highly versatile materials. Aluminum is arguably more versatile than steel, in fact, because of its exceptionally low density. The low density of aluminum results in a lower weight than that of steel. For certain automotive and aerospace components, aluminum is preferred for this very reason.
#4) Aluminum Was Pioneered as a Manufacturing Material in the 20th Century
Aluminum has been used as a manufacturing material for well over a century. Large-scale production of aluminum actually began in the 1880s, during which it was used to make rings, necklaces, eyeglass frames, cooking pots, cutlery and other products. By the 20th century, aluminum became a widespread material used in countless products.
#5) Aluminum Products Pose a Health Hazard
Another common myth is that aluminum products pose a health hazard. Granted, long-term or significant exposure to aluminum may increase your risk of certain diseases, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) specifically says that aluminum in foods, cooking pots and other common products is safe. Therefore, you can rest assured knowing that aluminum products won’t harm your health. Assuming they are properly made, they are safe to use.