Aluminum is one of those substances easily taken for granted, because it is used in so many products used in daily life. But when you think about the versatility of aluminum, it becomes a wonder how we ever lived life before this metal was introduced. Aluminum is used to package our food, put roofs over our homes, build our ladders, and even to build the body of our cars. Thanks to the versatility, durability and light weight of aluminum, it is something that can be used in just about any situation.

The very first form of aluminum was first extracted from ore in 1825 by a very famous chemist from Denmark named Hans Christian. Because the process of extracting aluminum was so expensive, it was initially considered to be more valuable than gold or platinum. Aluminum was considered such a luxury that the French dictator Napoleon often served his dinner guests with aluminum plates that he was extremely proud of. But by 1900, the methods for extracting aluminum had been refined to the point where it had become a cost-effective metal to be used in a variety of ways. By 1935 the aluminum industry in the United States had become a big business and by the 1960's aluminum was playing a vital role in sending American astronauts into space.

Physical Characteristics
Aluminum is popular because it is both lightweight and it is extremely durable. It is also one of the metals that is non-magnetic and it is does not easily burn. Aluminum has incredible reflective properties which allow it to reflect nearly 92 percent of all visible light that contacts it. Aluminum has approximately 33 percent of the density and hardness of steel, which makes it very easy to fabricate and mold. When aluminum is exposed to air (not just oxygen), it develops a coating of a chemical called aluminum oxide, which makes the metal very resistant to moisture and rust, except in the presence of salt water. Aluminum's ability to resist moisture makes it the ideal foundation for many types of commercial paints.
General Use
Aluminum makes many different aspects of modern society possible. Its ability to avoid rusting and its very malleable nature make it a metal that is found a variety of industries. In the construction industry, aluminum is used to make window frames door frames, plumbing pipes, bridge fixtures, skylights, siding, building signs, and it is often used as the protective coating over skyscrapers. In the food industry, aluminum is found in food packaging, food preservation products, protective foil, decorative flatware, thermos bottles and bottle tops. The ability for aluminum to remain clean in a variety of circumstances makes it very popular in the food industry. Aluminum is used to build cars, power lines, recreational vehicles, roofs, buildings and farming equipment. The low cost of utilizing aluminum, coupled with its ability to withstand a variety of different kinds of deterioration, makes aluminum a very popular choice for many different industries.
Because aluminum resists deterioration and is a very clean metal, it is often recycled and reused in a variety of applications. It is estimated that nearly 65 percent of all aluminum is recycled in some form within 90 days of it being discarded. One of the reasons that recycling aluminum is so popular among corporations is because it takes approximately 95 percent less resources to recycle aluminum, than it does to mine and extract aluminum from ore. To put that into perspective, 20 aluminum soda cans can be created by using recycling with the same amount of resources (energy, money, time, etc.) it takes to create one aluminum can from ore. With that kind of ratio in terms of a savings on resources and time, it is no wonder that most companies prefer to utilize recycled aluminum as opposed to paying to have it extracted from ore.
Article written by Lexi Westingate
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