What Are Pure Elements Around the House?

Many elements are used in their pure form by ordinary people every day, including carbon, lithium, aluminum and nickel. Sometimes, the presence of an element is unlikely to be noticed, as with the cesium used in smoke detectors, while other uses, such as the mercury used in thermometers, is well known.

A typical kitchen is full of chemicals in their elemental state. Silver is used for high-quality utensils, and aluminum is used for many cooking vessels as well as the foil used to wrap food. Some pots and pans are made from copper, and charcoal is mostly carbon, albeit with some impurities. Carbon is also the principal component of diamonds, which are often set in a 24-karat, or 99 percent pure, gold band. Matches use sulfur and phosphorus. Batteries typically use elemental lithium, and argon is used in incandescent light bulbs, just as neon can be used in fluorescent bulbs and krypton in flashlight bulbs. Every piece of electronic equipment in the house contains some silicon, and anything shiny is likely to be coated with nickel or chromium. Titanium is used for golf clubs, bicycle frames and many pieces of camping gear. Steel is an alloy of iron and carbon, so it is not in its elemental form, but galvanized steel is coated with elemental zinc.