Iron’s interactions with water and oxygen
Chemical properties of iron
Iron is a metal in the eighth group, fourth period of the periodic table. Its symbol is Fe. Its atomic number is 26 and molecular weight is 56 g/mol. The metal has medium activity and is a reducer.
Iron is silvery-white and very malleable, with a melting point of 1539°С. When heated, it quickly gains elasticity and can be forged and worked. Moreover, when heated, it can react with water and oxygen.
Prevalence of iron on Earth
Iron is one of the most widespread elements on Earth, occupying fourth place after aluminum, oxygen, and silicon. The earth’s crust is approximately 5% iron. Many minerals, such as magnetite, hematite, pyrite, and limonite, consist mostly of iron.
Physical properties of iron
Iron is used in electrical devices for its magnetic properties and electrical conductivity. There are two types of iron:
- commercially pure.
Pure iron contains a minimum of impurities. Commercially pure iron can contain up to 0.1% carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, and, in even smaller quantities, phosphorus. Pure iron resembles platinum – silvery and shiny. Commercially pure iron does not corrode and is minimally affected by acids. It is flexible and elastic.
Chemical properties of iron
Iron swiftly oxidizes (rusts) in the presence of moisture. The reaction is:
4Fe + 3O₂ + 6H₂O = 4Fe(OH)₃
When heated, iron reacts with water to form its main oxide. Combining 3 moles of iron and 4 moles of water will result in iron oxides with a non-stoichiometric composition of FeₓOᵧ – mixed iron(II,III) oxide Fe₃O₄ and gaseous hydrogen. The reaction between iron and water proceeds according to the following equation:
3Fe + 4H₂O = Fe₃O₄ + 4H₂↑
These substances are widely used in industry and other fields.
Reaction of iron with oxygen
Iron reacts with oxygen only when heated. This can be demonstrated via the following experiment. Hold a fine iron wire over a burner flame. Then plunge the incandescent wire into a container of oxygen. The wire will burn with a bright flame and emit sparks. These sparks are particles of iron cinder Fe₃O₄. A similar reaction also takes place in the air, when steel is heated via friction:
3Fe + 2O₂ = Fe₃O₄
3Fe + 2O₂ = FeO•Fe₂O₃
These reactions involve a release of heat and light energy.
Iron in everyday life
Iron’s abovementioned chemical properties and reactions with various elements are widely applied in practice. For example, steel and cast-iron are made of iron. Steel contains less than 2.14% carbon, and cast-iron not more than 7% carbon. Cast-iron is used in building materials, machine parts, the automobile industry, rails, and tools.
Pure iron is used in the manufacture of transformers and electromagnets. Iron is undoubtedly one of the most crucial elements to human life. Practically everything is made from it nowadays. It has replaced bronze in the production of tools. And iron alloys have more useful properties than alloys of copper and tin, especially considering its abundance on Earth in comparison to other metals. This element is also a component of hemoglobin, which is vital to the functioning of the human body. In general, iron plays a critical role in maintaining the health of the entire body and the normal functioning of all organs and systems.