Written by Adeel Abbas
Lithium is the lightest of all metals and is found in Group 1 of the periodic table. It has the symbol Li and an atomic number of 3. It is a silver-white metal that is very reactive and flammable.
Lithium is part of the alkali metal group and can be found in the first column of the periodic table right below hydrogen. Like all alkali metals, it has a single valence electron that it readily gives up to form a cation or compound.
Lithium is very reactive and flammable. Lithium’s single valence electron allows it to be a good conductor of electricity.
Discovery of lithium
The element was discovered by Johan August Arfvedson in 1817, working under the Swedish government. It was named after “lithos”, which means rock due to its discovery near Norberg, Sweden where lithium-rich petalite ore was mined from a quarry. It was later realized that this ore contained another element that could produce similar results as well.
Occurrence of lithium
Lithium can be found in several forms including minerals, rocks, and salts. The most common lithium mineral is spodumene. It can also be found in brines, clays, and soils.
Properties of lithium
Lithium is very reactive and flammable. Lithium’s single valence electron allows it to be a good conductor of electricity. It reacts with water to form an alkali metal hydroxide in the same way that sodium does, which makes it useful in some ways.
It has 3 allotropes that are either colorless or white. The most stable allotrope, called the beta allotrope, is very soft and can actually be cut with a knife when it’s pure. All lithium compounds are highly flammable.
Lithium dissolves readily in non-polar solvents like ether or benzene, unlike other metals which only dissolve in highly polar solvents like water. This behavior is because lithium has a small, very highly charged metal ion which polarizes the solvent and makes it dissolve well.
It also dissolves in very hot water to form an alkali metal hydroxide solution but does not dissolve in cold water because of its amphoteric property which means that it can act as an acid when dissolved in water by giving up one of its hydrogen ions or act as a base once again by accepting one when in basic conditions.
Lithium will react with nitrogen pentoxide, nitryl chloride, and sulfur dioxide to produce salts called lithium nitrate (LiNO3), lithium perchlorate (LiClO4), and lithium sulfate (LiSO4).
Uses of lithium
1: Lithium is the lightest of all metals.
2: It’s used to make ceramics and glass.
3: Lithium is also used in grease, shampoos, soaps, oils, greases.
4: Lithium metal is used in air purifiers where it removes carbon dioxide from the air by reacting with it to form lithium carbonate which can be disposed off easily along with the exhaled air without being corrosive to equipment or polluting environment.
5: Lithium-ion batteries are used in a wide range of electrical devices including cell phones, laptop computers, and electric cars.
6: Lithium chloride is used as a source of chlorine in the production of polyvinyl chloride or PVC.
7: It is also used for reducing fevers by being administered as an injection.
8: In some countries, lithium carbonate is also available as a drug to treat bipolar disorder which works by slowing down brain activity.
9: Lithium iodide is burned in oxygen to produce highly reactive lithium oxide that can be used to desulfurize petroleum oil and remove hydrogen from various organic compounds.
10: Lithium stearate prevents corrosion and dryness it’s even good for your skin!
FAQs about Lithium metal
1. What is lithium?
Lithium is a soft, light metal that belongs to the alkali group of metals on the periodic table. It has a single valence electron which allows it to be very reactive and flammable.
2. What are some of its uses?
Lithium is used in a variety of applications including making ceramics and glass, as a grease additive, in shampoos and soaps, and in air purifiers. Lithium-ion batteries are also becoming increasingly popular for use in a wide range of devices. Additionally, lithium chloride can be used to produce chlorine, and lithium iodide can be burned to produce highly reactive lithium oxide.
3. Is lithium safe?
Yes, lithium is generally safe when used in the appropriate applications. However, it can be dangerous if not handled properly. For example, lithium metal is highly flammable and can cause fires if not stored and used safely.
4. What are some of the dangers associated with lithium?
As mentioned above, lithium metal is highly flammable and can easily catch on fire. Additionally, it is a corrosive substance and can damage equipment or pollute the environment if not handled properly. Lithium-ion batteries can also present a fire hazard if not used or stored properly.