Iron is a popular material in our lives!

Iron is used for making stainless steel (cutlery, cooking appliances, and medical equipment). Iron is also used to make the electrical iron.

And did you know? Our body needs irons! We need iron to make hemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen.

Is iron an element, compound, or mixture?

Pure iron is an element with an atomic number of 26. However, the iron that we see in everyday life is usually an iron alloy, which is a mixture of the iron element with other metallic element(s).

Wait, so the iron rod and the iron railings that we see at homes are not pure iron?

That’s correct! Those “irons” are usually not pure iron. They are usually a mixture of iron with 1 or some other element(s).

In this article, we will talk about IRON, including the classification of iron and the uses of iron in everyday life.

So, keep on reading and keep on learning!

Is Iron A Compound?

No, pure iron is not a compound. Iron is an element because it only consists of one single type of atom, that is Fe.

To be considered a compound, a material must consist of two or more elements that bond chemically. Besides, a compound must have a definite composition, which means the material will always have the exact same ratio of composition no matter where you find it in the world.

Some examples of compound are carbon dioxide (CO2), water (H2O), and salt (NaCl).

What Does Iron Look Like?

Pure iron is a soft metal. But the iron alloys that we found in houses are solid and strong. Both pure iron and iron alloy has a shiny grayish color. Iron is prone to corrosion. When it’s exposed to oxygen and oxidizes, you can see some reddish flakes on the surface.

iron ore

Above is the picture of iron ore. Iron ore is a rock or mineral that is found naturally in nature. After being mined, the iron is extracted from the ores to produce pure iron.

Is Iron An Alloy?

No, pure iron is not an alloy. The element of iron purely consists of a single type of element, which is iron (Fe). However, if you refer to the strong iron that we see at houses, chances are IT IS an alloy since it is a mixture of iron and other metal(s).

An alloy is a metal that is made by combining two or more metallic elements. Some examples of alloys are bronze (made of copper and tin), brass (made of copper and zinc), and duralumin (made of aluminum, copper, magnesium, and manganese).

Pure iron is NOT an alloy. It is an element. But this element can be used to form some alloys.

Some examples of alloys that contain iron are:

  • Steel (an alloy made of iron and carbon)
  • Stainless steel (an alloy made of iron, chromium, and nickel)
  • FeAl or ferroaluminum (an alloy made of iron and aluminum)
  • Wrought iron (an alloy made of iron with a very small amount of carbon). Wrought iron is used for making railings, curtain rods, and gates.

Is Iron Alloy A Mixture?

Yes, iron alloy is a mixture. Iron alloy is the mixture of iron with one ore more other metallic elements.

When pure iron only consists of one single element, iron alloy can consists of two or more elements. And those elements combine without building chemical bond between them.

In science, a mixture is a material that consists of two or more elements or compounds that combine physically (without a chemical bond). Thus, iron alloy classify as mixture.

Is Electrical Iron an Iron?

What about the electrical iron? You know, the iron that we use to smoothen clothes.

There are two parts of electrical iron. The cool part that we can handle, and the plate that is electrically heated to smoothen the clothes.

The exterior part that we can handle is usually made of plastic. While the solid, shiny part is usually a metal alloy. This metal alloy can vary in composition. It can be stainless steel, ceramic, cast iron, etc.

Stainless steel and cast iron are both iron alloys, but they are not pure iron.

So, the clothes iron is not pure iron at all. There might be some iron elements in it, but it’s not entirely iron.

What is Iron Used for In Everyday Life?

Some uses of iron in everyday life are:

  • to make stainless steel which is used to make cutlery, cookware, and bathroom accessories
  • to make wrought iron which is used to make curtain rods, gates, and stair railing
  • to make steel which is used to build skyscrapers
  • to make steel which is used to make agricultural equipment (shovels, hoes, garden fork)
  • to make steel which is used to make car components

Daniel Smithson

Hi, I'm Daniel Smithson, a Chemistry teacher for over 35-years and the founder of Learning should be fun and accessible to all. Find out more about our mission here:

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