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What is aluminum made of?

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Quick Answer

Aluminum exists as an element in its pure form, so it simply contains aluminum. Aluminum's symbol is Al, and its atomic number is 13. It is classified as a metal and appears in group 13 on the periodic table.

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Full Answer

Aluminum was first isolated in Denmark in 1825 by Hans Christian Oersted. Its name comes from the Latin word "alumen," which means "alum." It has a melting point of 1220.58 degrees Fahrenheit, a boiling point of 4566 degrees Fahrenheit and an atomic weight of 26.9815. In its solid state, it is a silvery color.

Aluminum is the third most common element in the Earth's crust, making up about 8.1 percent of the Earth's weight. The lightness of aluminum has made it a useful component in the manufacture of airplanes. Its high conductivity allows it to be used instead of copper in large electrical conductors.

Looking through bauxite clay is the best way to find naturally occurring aluminum ready to be adapted for common consumer use as a metal.

The standard aluminum that Westerners know as the metal in cans and foil is a processed version of that same naturally occurring metal found in clays and rocks all around the world. Yet most of the cans and foil sold today are entirely recycled, usually several times. Aluminum is very lightweight and malleable and thus well suited for simple recycling. Most of the aluminum that we use today is "made" from itself, or from a past form of itself. This process cannot be done at home and requires industrial equipment and potentially dangerous methods.

The process is timely, and new aluminum recyclables generally aren't ready for at least sixty days.

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