In its purest form, carbon has a density of 2.25 grams per cubic centimeter. It is a Group 14 element and is widely available in nature. It is a nonmetal with a boiling point of 4,827 degrees Celsius and a melting point of approximately 3,500 degrees Celsius.
In nature, carbon is found in three allotropic forms: diamond, graphite and amorphous. Approximately 20 percent of the weight of living matter is carbon, according to Chemicool.
Pure carbon is generally nontoxic, but if inhaled in large quantities, it can damage the lungs.
The structure of carbon gives it some interesting characteristics. For instance, graphite is one of the softest substances, while another crystalline allotrope diamond is one of the hardest materials in nature. Another rare allotrope of diamond, known as lonsdaleite, is now regarded as the hardest natural substance, and it is believed to be approximately 58 percent harder than diamond, according to Chemicool.
Carbon has other interesting characteristics. It has the highest melting point of all elements and the diamond allotrope has the highest thermal conductivity of any natural element.
Carbon has many uses. Most notably, it is used as a fuel (coal or charcoal), while graphite is used in electrodes, dry cells and pencil tips and as a lubricant. Diamonds are used in jewelry and in many industrial cutting tools.