Wikijunior:The Elements/Tungsten

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Shows the position of Tungsten on the periodic chart.
Tungsten's symbol on the Periodic Table

What does it look, feel, taste, or smell like?[edit]

Tungsten powder in a vial.

Tungsten is a heavy metal that can be from grey to white. Tungsten in its pure form is soft enough to cut with a hacksaw. Tungsten carbide is extremely hard and it is very difficult to cut.

How was it discovered?[edit]

In 1783, two Spanish chemists, the de Elhujar brothers, were the first to isolate pure tungsten metal. Tungsten was originally found in the mineral wolframite. "Wolframite" means "the devourer of tin."

Where did its name come from?[edit]

Tungsten gets its name from the Swedish word tung sten which means "heavy stone." The "W" in its symbol stands for wolfram, tungsten's German name.

Did You Know?

  • Tungsten has the highest melting point of all metals at 3422 °C.

Where is Tungsten found?[edit]

Tungsten is found in certain minerals including wolframite ((Fe, Mn)WO4) and scheelite (CaWO4). Most of the world's tungsten, about 75%, comes from China. Other major deposits of tungsten can be found in California, Colorado, South Korea, Bolivia, Russia and Portugal.

What are its uses?[edit]

An incandescent light bulb and its glowing filament.

Tungsten is used in incandescent light bulb filaments as the source of light (although, since they are very inefficient, they are less commonly seen nowadays.) It is also used in fluorescent light bulbs, television tubes, and x-ray production.

Tungsten is combined with carbon to make tungsten carbide (WC) which is used to make the tips of drill bits, high-speed cutting instruments and mining machinery.

Is it dangerous?[edit]

When electric current is passing through it, tungsten can get very hot and could cause a burn.

References[edit]