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How is aluminum obtained?

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Quick Answer

Aluminum is extracted from bauxite ore using chemical processes. Bauxite is strip mined from near the surface of the earth. The ore is then heated along with a sodium hydroxide solution that chemically separates the aluminum from the ore. After its separation, it is heated, becomes molten, then electrified, and finally solidified as a solid and wholly aluminum product.

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Aluminum is the third most abundant element, behind oxygen and silicon, and the most abundant in the earth’s crust. It is the second most malleable metal behind gold and is rarely strong enough to be used alone so it is mixed with smaller quantities of manganese, magnesium, silicon, copper, and other metals to strengthen it. Currently aluminum is used in construction, in packaging, and heavily in house hold cookware. Aluminums largest market is the automotive industry. Australia is the producer of the largest amount of bauxite in the world.

Although aluminum is present in dyes, food, and antiperspirants, there is little evidence of it being a risk to healthy adults. The ancient Greeks and Romans used aluminum for textile dyeing and as an astringent for wound dressing. A ruby is a gemstone that consists of the element aluminum oxide with some aluminum atoms being replaced by chromium atoms.

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