Wikijunior:The Elements/Lithium

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Shows the position of Lithium on the periodic chart.
%element%'s symbol on the Periodic Table

What does it look and feel like?[edit | edit source]

Lithium floating in oil

Lithium is a very soft silvery metal, and can be cut with a knife just like butter. Lithium tarnishes quickly in the air, and will turn black within seconds. It is the lightest metal. Its density is only 0.53 g/cm^3, about the same as pine wood. Lithium is light enough to float in water. But like all alkali metals, it also reacts violently with water to form lithium hydroxide (a base) and hydrogen gas. So don't expect any lithium bath toys.

How was it discovered?[edit | edit source]

Lithium was discovered in 1817 by Johann August Arfwedson whilst studying petalite discovered in a Swedish iron mine.

Where did its name come from?[edit | edit source]

Did You Know?

  • Lithium is one of the few elements that was synthesized by the Big Bang, at the start of the universe.

The name "lithium" comes from the Greek name lithos which means "stone."

Where is it found?[edit | edit source]

It is found in mineral springs and is found in most igneous rocks.

What are its uses?[edit | edit source]

Lithium is used to transfer heat from one object to the next. Some things lithium is used in are glasses, organic compounds, and ceramics. Because it is such a good conductor of electricity, it is used in batteries as well. Lithium salts are also used in medicine as a mood-stabilizing medication for patients with bipolar disorder.

Is it dangerous?[edit | edit source]

Lithium is toxic except in small doses, mostly because it is so reactive. It is dangerous and can cause an allergic reaction when near skin.