Iron is a common metal known to man since history. Its chemical symbol is “Fe” derived from its Latin name Ferrum.
Metallic iron is widely used as a pure metal and alloy for tools, equipment’s and arms. In its elemental and oxide forms it find larger applications in life.
Iron finds its uses in different ways like
- In the body physiology
- As supplements in Medicine
- In kitchen cookware
- For home and other construction process.
- Plumbing (by galvanized steel pipes)
- In Industry
- Automobiles & Heavy machinery
- In Agriculture.
- Security systems and Fencing
- In bridge construction.
In the body
Iron is an important element contributing to body physiology. It is a part of the hemoglobin (HB) in the red blood cells of our body. It is also present in the enzyme form in all the plants and animals. The heme (iron) part of the pigment hemoglobin is important for the transport of oxygen from the lungs to different tissues.
Iron in the pigment binds reversibly to the oxygen in the lungs and releases it in tissues and cells.
But, if the iron levels fall down, there is insufficient oxygen supply leading to hypochromic anemia.
So, during such conditions, physicians advise having high iron content foodstuffs like green leafy vegetables.
Iron is present in many vegetables and a few types of cereals and grains.
As Iron supplement
Iron tablets are prescribed for iron deficiency blood conditions like anemia. Due to inadequate food intake, menstruation, or pregnancy, one tends to fall short of this Heme. The normal range of HB in man is 11 to 16g/dl. But when the levels go below these levels the condition is termed hypochromic anemia. Which means less colored (blood) anemia?
Iron formulations containing ferrous fumarate, ferrous gluconate, ferrous sulfate, etc are used. For old people and children, it is given in liquid forms. For adults, it is given in tablet and capsule format. The iron is taken up by the body to restore iron reserves in it.
In Kitchen as Cookware
Many cooking equipment and kitchenware are made of cast iron or stainless steel.
Cast iron is especially used to make stoves which can be heated with coal or wood. It is also used to make frying pans.
Further, the spoons, forks and plates are made of stainless steel.
The steel is also used to make the frame of stoves to give strength and an attractive bright appearance to the stoves.
This form of iron does not get rust but is also strong and durable
Home & construction materials
Besides, home and building constructions rely a lot on iron. It is used in foundations, roofs and even pillars of the building and homes. It is used as iron long rods in combination with concrete and cement. Adding iron to the construction gives strength and durability to construction. Also, the presence of iron rods helps to bear intense weight.
Especially steel carbon can be used in making rooftops by an RCC mixture.
Pipes are used for the transport of water to different places. These pipes are made of iron for long life and stability of supply without chances of breakage.
Automobiles are built to a large extent with iron. Except for a few, wherein aluminum is used to give lightweight to the body. But the main framework and other parts like pistons, wires, wheel bearings are made of iron.
Grey cast iron is used in making engine piston cylinder cases, gearboxes and other tools. While white cast iron is used to make bearings.
Again here iron is preferred for its toughness, ability to withstand a high temperature of the engine, etc.
Iron is a micro-nutrient in plants having a diverse role in their physiology. Iron deficiency leads to a few diseases. Hence iron is used in agriculture to maintain the proper growth of plants. Iron concentration is critical for plants. Organic iron is the form by which it is absorbed from soil by plants.
Heavy machines: Heavy machines like cranes, road rollers, bore machines are made of iron to a large extent. Even industry transfer chains, tumblers, mixers are made of iron.
Its advantages like being heavy extremely hard at normal temperatures, resistance to wear and tear make it ideal for hard tasks.
Also, the magnetic properties of iron make it useful for making electric mortars and fans which run on electricity.
Fencing: Fencing or boundary wire of farms and grounds are made of iron.
Compared to other metals, iron is cheaper and also more durable. It can withstand environmental wear and tear for a long duration.
Even minute fences which can prevent insect entry into homes and building like mosquito mesh are also made of iron (steel)
Furnaces: Furnaces are used to heat the substance to as high as even 1000 degree centigrade temperature or more. Such furnaces are made of materials like cement beside iron in them. Even the tools to operate in the furnace are made of iron. Using other metals is not possible due to their chances of melting at such high temperatures.
Tools: Most of the tools we use in daily life like spanners, screwdrivers, compass, etc. are made of iron. Even scientific machinery, research instruments, thermostats use iron for making.
Security systems: Security systems like bank lockers, locks, keys, safes, cupboards are made of iron. This is due to the heaviness and also the toughness of the metal.
Pipes: Another place where iron is largely used pipes for the supply of water. This can be from municipal storage to homes, from wells into farms, etc. Pipes made of iron are durable and the chances of leaks due to small damage are very less. They can tolerate the harsh climatic conditions and oxidation. So, they can be of long-standing service if laid once. Even gas cylinders used to deliver gas for medicine or natural cooking gas are made of iron.
In bridge construction: Many worlds’ famous bridges like Brooklyn are built of iron to a large extent. The ductile strength and hardness of iron give them the strength to bear the heavyweight.
Without iron, it would have difficult to build many big bridges, monuments (Eiffel tower) and skyscraper buildings.
Besides this iron is an essential element and considered a micronutrient for plants and animals.