Iron (/ˈərn/) is a chemical element with symbol Fe (from Latin: ferrum) and atomic number 26. It is a metal that belongs to the first transition series and group 8 of the periodic table. It is, by mass, the most common element on Earth, right in front of oxygen (32.1% and 30.1%, respectively), forming much of Earth's outer and inner core. It is the fourth most common element in the Earth's crust.

Iron, 26Fe
Allotropessee Allotropes of iron
Appearancelustrous metallic with a grayish tinge
Standard atomic weight Ar°(Fe)
  • 55.845±0.002
  • 55.845±0.002 (abridged)[1]
Iron in the periodic table
Hydrogen Helium
Lithium Beryllium Boron Carbon Nitrogen Oxygen Fluorine Neon
Sodium Magnesium Aluminium Silicon Phosphorus Sulfur Chlorine Argon
Potassium Calcium Scandium Titanium Vanadium Chromium Manganese Iron Cobalt Nickel Copper Zinc Gallium Germanium Arsenic Selenium Bromine Krypton
Rubidium Strontium Yttrium Zirconium Niobium Molybdenum Technetium Ruthenium Rhodium Palladium Silver Cadmium Indium Tin Antimony Tellurium Iodine Xenon
Caesium Barium Lanthanum Cerium Praseodymium Neodymium Promethium Samarium Europium Gadolinium Terbium Dysprosium Holmium Erbium Thulium Ytterbium Lutetium Hafnium Tantalum Tungsten Rhenium Osmium Iridium Platinum Gold Mercury (element) Thallium Lead Bismuth Polonium Astatine Radon
Francium Radium Actinium Thorium Protactinium Uranium Neptunium Plutonium Americium Curium Berkelium Californium Einsteinium Fermium Mendelevium Nobelium Lawrencium Rutherfordium Dubnium Seaborgium Bohrium Hassium Meitnerium Darmstadtium Roentgenium Copernicium Nihonium Flerovium Moscovium Livermorium Tennessine Oganesson


Atomic number (Z)26
Groupgroup 8
Periodperiod 4
Block  d-block
Electron configuration[Ar] 3d6 4s2
Electrons per shell2, 8, 14, 2
Physical properties
Phase at STPsolid
Melting point1811 K (1538 °C, 2800 °F)
Boiling point3134 K (2862 °C, 5182 °F)
Density (near r.t.)7.874 g/cm3
when liquid (at m.p.)6.98 g/cm3
Heat of fusion13.81 kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization340 kJ/mol
Molar heat capacity25.10 J/(mol·K)
Vapor pressure
P (Pa) 1 10 100 1 k 10 k 100 k
at T (K) 1728 1890 2091 2346 2679 3132
Atomic properties
Oxidation states−4, −2, −1, 0, +1,[2] +2, +3, +4, +5,[3] +6, +7[4] (an amphoteric oxide)
ElectronegativityPauling scale: 1.83
Ionization energies
  • 1st: 762.5 kJ/mol
  • 2nd: 1561.9 kJ/mol
  • 3rd: 2957 kJ/mol
  • (more)
Atomic radiusempirical: 126 pm
Covalent radiusLow spin: 132±3 pm
High spin: 152±6 pm
Van der Waals radius194  pm
Spectral lines of iron
Other properties
Natural occurrenceprimordial
Crystal structure body-centered cubic (bcc)

a=286.65 pm
Crystal structure face-centered cubic (fcc)

between 11851667 K; a=364.680 pm
Speed of sound thin rod5120 m/s (at r.t.) (electrolytic)
Thermal expansion11.8 µm/(m⋅K) (at 25 °C)
Thermal conductivity80.4 W/(m⋅K)
Electrical resistivity96.1 nΩ⋅m (at 20 °C)
Curie point1043 K
Magnetic orderingferromagnetic
Young's modulus211 GPa
Shear modulus82 GPa
Bulk modulus170 GPa
Poisson ratio0.29
Mohs hardness4
Vickers hardness608 MPa
Brinell hardness200–1180 MPa
CAS Number7439-89-6
Discoverybefore 5000 BC
Symbol"Fe": from Latin ferrum
Main isotopes of iron
Iso­tope Abun­dance Half-life (t1/2) Decay mode Pro­duct
54Fe 5.85% stable
55Fe syn 2.73 y ε 55Mn
56Fe 91.75% stable
57Fe 2.12% stable
58Fe 0.28% stable
59Fe syn 44.6 d β 59Co
60Fe trace 2.6×106 y β 60Co
 Category: Iron
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In its metallic state, iron is rare in the Earth's crust, limited mainly to deposition by meteorites. Iron ores, by contrast, are among the most abundant in the Earth's crust, although extracting usable metal from them requires kilns or furnaces capable of reaching 1,500 °C (2,730 °F) or higher, about 500 °C (932 °F) higher than that required to smelt copper. Humans started to master that process in Eurasia during the 2nd millennium BCE and the use of iron tools and weapons began to displace copper alloys, in some regions, only around 1200 BCE. That event is considered the transition from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age. In the modern world, iron alloys, such as steel, stainless steel, cast iron and special steels, are by far the most common industrial metals, because of their mechanical properties and low cost. The iron and steel industry is thus very important economically, and iron is the cheapest metal, with a price of a few dollars per kilogram or per pound (see Metal#uses).

Pristine and smooth pure iron surfaces are mirror-like silvery-gray. However, iron reacts readily with oxygen and water to give brown to black hydrated iron oxides, commonly known as rust. Unlike the oxides of some other metals, that form passivating layers, rust occupies more volume than the metal and thus flakes off, exposing fresh surfaces for corrosion. Although iron readily reacts, high purity iron, called electrolytic iron, has better corrosion resistance.

The body of an adult human contains about 4 grams (0.005% body weight) of iron, mostly in hemoglobin and myoglobin. These two proteins play essential roles in vertebrate metabolism, respectively oxygen transport by blood and oxygen storage in muscles. To maintain the necessary levels, human iron metabolism requires a minimum of iron in the diet. Iron is also the metal at the active site of many important redox enzymes dealing with cellular respiration and oxidation and reduction in plants and animals.[5]

Chemically, the most common oxidation states of iron are iron(II) and iron(III). Iron shares many properties of other transition metals, including the other group 8 elements, ruthenium and osmium. Iron forms compounds in a wide range of oxidation states, −2 to +7. Iron also forms many coordination compounds; some of them, such as ferrocene, ferrioxalate, and Prussian blue, have substantial industrial, medical, or research applications.

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