What are the Uses and Survey of Elements?

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survey of elements

What is the Survey of Elements?

Survey of elements mean having introduced the idea of elements and the fact that they combine to form compounds, let us now consider some of the characteristics of the more common elements. The word “properties” used in chemistry rather than the word “characteristics.” The properties of a substance are the characteristics that help distinguish it from all other substances.

According to the survey of elements, elements can classify under Liquid Elements and Gaseous Elements.

Liquid and Gaseous Elements in the Periodic table,Liquid elements, gaseous elements, periodic table
Liquid and Gaseous Elements in the Periodic table

What are the Liquid elements?

Of the naturally occurring elements, only two are liquids at ordinary temperatures and pressures. They are mercury and bromine.

Mercury is the heavy, silvery liquid in thermometers and blood pressure apparatus used by medical practitioners. It is quite poisonous and must handle with care.

Bromine is a deep reddish-brown liquid that easily vaporizes. Its vapors are highly corrosive. Bromine is useful only in compounds. Silver bromide, a compound of silver and bromine, is used extensively in photography. Other compounds of bromine use as fire retardants and ass additives too (leaded) petrol.

What are the Gaseous Elements?

There are eleven gaseous elements at ordinary temperatures and pressures. They are Oxygen, Nitrogen, Hydrogen, Helium, Neon, Argon, Krypton, Xenon, Radon, Fluorine, and Chlorine. All of these are colorless except fluorine, which is pale yellow and chlorine, which is greenish-yellow. Helium, Neon, Argon, Krypton, Xenon, and Radon exist as monoatomic molecules, i.e., as individual atoms. The others exist as diatomic molecules: O2, N2, H2, F2, Cl2.

Noble Gases

Helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon, and radon undergo almost no chemical reactions so that they form extremely few compounds. Hence, they are called noble gases. Helium often finds in gas and oil wells. Such wells are the commercial sources of helium. All the noble gases occur at low concentrations in the atmosphere (argon 1%, neon 0.001%, radon <10-6%).

Facts about Radon

Radon is radioactive. It is a product of the radioactive decay of uranium and always find in uranium deposits. Because of its radioactivity, it is dangerous to humans, and its inhalation is one of the hazards associated with uranium mining. All the other noble gases are quite harmless to people.

Hydrogen and Helium

Hydrogen does not occur naturally as the free element, i.e., as h2 gas, but rather occurs in a great variety of compounds, usually in combination with oxygen or carbon. The most abundant hydrogen-containing compound is water, H2O. Others are coal, crude oil, and natural gas. The hydrogen-containing compound is water by passing an electric current through it in a process called electrolysis.

Oxygen and Nitrogen

Oxygen and nitrogen are the only two elements that occur in nature in large amounts as free elements, i.e., not just as a compound. They are the major constituents of the atmosphere (21%O2, 78% N2). Oxygen is essential to human life for respiration (breathing).

Fluorine and Chlorine

Fluorine and chlorine are very reactive elements, and therefore always occur in nature as compounds, usually with such elements as sodium, potassium, calcium.

Fluorine gas and chlorine gas can prepare in the laboratory from compounds of fluorine and chlorine chemical reaction. Compounds of fluorine and chlorine are called fluorides and chlorides.

Applications of Fluorine and Chlorine

Chlorine gas used to sterilize municipal water supplies, while compounds that readily produce chlorine in a solution used to treat home swimming pools. Fluorine use to make the plastic known as Teflon and a group of compounds called freons, which use as refrigerants and aerosol spray propellants. Compounds of fluorine, i.e., fluorides, are often added to municipal water supplies to prevent dental decay.

Common salt, sodium chloride is the best-known chlorine compound. Other chlorine-containing compounds use as pesticides and plastics.

Elements in everyday products

Although few elements occur in nature in an uncombined state, there are some which are particularly useful to us in the elemental form. We regularly extract these from their compounds. Most of the elements are metals.

Iron obtains from naturally occurring iron oxide, in a blast furnace. It is useful to us as steel, which we use to make motor cars, ships, bridges, buildings, tools, tin cans, etc. unfortunately, iron rusts, and it is, therefore, expensive to preserve (though relatively cheap to make).

Applications of elements, Uses of Elements, Elements in our life,
Applications of Elements

Aluminum extract from bauxite (impure aluminum oxide) and widely used in airplanes, buildings(window frames, roofing), electrical transmission lines, domestic appliance, and packaging(cans, foil,etc.). Also, Aluminum is relatively light(low density) and has a good structural strength to weight ratio. It is also very durable in that it does not corrode, but it is much more expensive to extract from its ore than iron.

Copper is extracted fro fool’s gold and used for electrical wiring, water pipes and plumbing fittings, car radiators, and coinage.

Also, Other elements(metals) widely used as zinc, lead, silver, and gold.

So, for further explanations, have a look at this video which is totally about the Uses and Survey of Elements.

Most Abundant Elements of Earth

According to the survey of elements in living matter(plants, animals), the six most abundant elements are Hydrogen, Carbon, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Sulfur.

Elements of life

The first three dominate. Carbohydrates and fats are the compounds which contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen only. Proteins also compound, which contain nitrogen, sulfur, and sometimes phosphorus as well.

Most compounds involved in living matter are extremely complex. So, Each molecule contains hundreds or thousands of atoms. While these six elements are making up more than 99% of the mass of living matter, small amounts of compounds of other elements are required.

Some such elements are calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, iron, chlorine, and iodine(all required in moderate quantities), and copper manganese, cobalt, zinc, fluorine, and others(required in trace amounts only). These are required not as free elements, but rather as compounds which are usable by the living organisms.

Although the six elements, C, H, O, N, P, S, are the most abundant in living matter, they are not the most abundant on earth or in the universe.

The Abundance of the Elements

The planet earth with a radius of 6400km consists of a core that has a radius about half that of the planet and which contains mainly iron and nickel. The core is surrounded by a mantle that is predominantly silicates (compounds of silicon and oxygen with a variety of other elements). On the outside of this is a thin crust, which is about 20 to 0km thick.

The dips and hollows of this crust are filled with water to form seas and oceans. Surrounding the solid earth is a thin layer of gases called the atmosphere. 95% of the mass of this atmosphere lies within 20km of the earth’s surface.

Although there are 92 naturally occurring elements, just 17 of them make up 99.5% of the earth’s crust(including oceans and atmosphere). The figure below lists their relative abundances according to the survey of elements. Oxygen, Aluminum, and Silicon, and are the most abundant elements in the earth.

Abundance of elements in Earth's crust , Most abundant elements
The abundance of Elements in Crust

More about the Abundance of the Elements

Virtually all of the elements are present as compounds. Oxygen and nitrogen, and to a lesser extent, sulfur, gold, silver, and platinum, are the only elements that occur in uncombined forms. Oxygen and nitrogen occur in the atmosphere. Although atmospheric nitrogen is the major source of that element, the atmosphere contains only a small fraction of the earth’s oxygen, which is predominantly present as water, oxides of metals, and as silicates. Common soils and clays are silicates.

Abundance of Elements, Abundance in Earth's crust and universe
Abundance of Elements

Cosmic Abundance of some Elements

The above figure shows the relative cosmic abundance of some elements.

The relative abundance of the elements in the earth’s crust is very different from those of the universe as a whole. Moreover, The dominance of hydrogen and helium in this cosmic distribution of the elements provides evidence that all the elements formed by nuclear fusion in stars, e.g., in the sun. Hydrogen is the basic element from which the other elements gradually build.

So, Under the Survey of Elements, let’s talk about the occurrence of the elements as well.

Element Occurrence


With few expectations (O2, N2, S, Au, Ag, Pt), all the elements occur as compounds rather than as free elements. Some elements of practical importance occur as compounds with oxygen, called oxides; for example, iron as Fe2O3 in haematite, aluminum as Al2O3 in bauxite, and titanium as TiO2 in rutile.


Other useful elements occur as compounds with sulfur called sulfides, such as zinc sulfide, ZnS, lead sulfide Pbs, Copper pyrites, CuFeS2, which is a common source of copper. More reactive elements such as sodium,

potassium, calcium, and magnesium usually occur as chlorides, sulfates, carbonates, or nitrates.

Second Most abundant Element on earth

Silicon, the second most abundant element, occurs in the sand as silicon dioxide (silica), SiO2, and in clays and soils as silicates.

The bulk of the earth’s aluminum also exists in such earthy materials called alumino-silicates, but i is only from the less common compound, aluminum oxide, that is practicable to extract the metal.

The Most Important Elements

Although there are 92 naturally occurring elements, only about 20 to 30 of them will be treated in any detail in this article. There are three reasons for considering these particular elements.

  1. They are involved in living matter, so an understanding of life processes requires knowledge of the types of compounds involved and of the reactions they undergo. The key elements in this regard are C, H, O, N, P, S.
  2. They are in widespread use in our society, and therefore we need to know something of how they obtained and of the chemical aspects of their use. Some such elements are Fe, Al, Cu, Zn, Pb, Ag, Cl, Si.
  3. They are very useful in illustrating chemical principals. So, we need to know if we want to understand the way chemistry operates in us and our environment. Elements commonly used in this regard are Na, K, Ca, Mg, Hg, I.

Other Important Elements

These then constitute our “Top Twenty” elements-the ones that will most frequently appear in the following articles. Besides, there are a further twelve elements which will receive less but still significant, treatment: He, Ne, Ar, F, Br, Sn, Ni, Mn, Cr, Ba, Sr and U. of the remaining 60, some such as Li, Be, B, Co, Cd, Rn, Au, and Pt will receive occasional mention, but there are many elements which are so rare or which offer so few new chemical insights, that we shall not mention them all.

Let’s talk about what is Allotropy?


Allotropes are forms of the one element which have distinctly different physical properties (color, density, hardness, electrical conductivity).

Allotropy of common Elements


Common elements displaying allotropy are carbon, phosphorus, sulfur, tin, and oxygen. The difference in physical properties between allotropes shows up most strikingly in the allotropes of carbon; diamond is colorless, extremely hard, and a non-conductor of electricity, on the other hand. white graphite is black, soft, and slippery, and it conducts electricity. Despite these striking differences, both diamond and graphite are chemically the element carbon.

Allotropes of Phosphorus

There are three common allotropes of phosphorus; white, red, and black phosphorus. White, red, and black phosphorus be stored underwater. but, Red phosphorus is quite stable in air but burns if heated. It used in matches and incendiary devices. Black phosphorus is even less reactive.

Allotropes of Sulfur

Sulfur has two common allotropes: rhombic and monoclinic. These terms describe the shape of the crystals. Both forms are yellow. Laboratory sulfur usually powders by rhombic sulfur.

Likewise, The next element we are going to talk about the allotropes of different elements under the survey of elements is tin.

Allotropes of Tin

The common allotrope of tin is white tin, which is typically metallic (shinny, ductile and highly conducting). but, At low temperature, this slowly transforms into a grey tin, which is non-metallic in appearance and is non conducting as well. It is partly because of this conversation of white tin to grey tin that food should not store in tin cans in refrigerators.

Allotropes of Oxygen

The element of oxygen has two allotropes. To clarify, There is the ordinary molecular oxygen, O2, which comprises 21% of the atmosphere. In addition, there is ozone, a very dangerous air pollutant.

Allotropes of Oxygen, Oxygen, Ozone
Allotropes of Oxygen

Molecules of ozone contain three oxygen atoms joined together-its formula is thus O3. Ozone is much more reactive than O2. Because it can kill bacteria, it is sometimes used instead of chlorine for sterilizing water supplies. It is the active constituent in ultraviolet-light sterilizers used in some shops and laboratories. So, in these, ozone generates by the action of the ultraviolet light on ordinary oxygen, O2.

Properties of Allotropes

The reason allotropes have different properties is that atoms arranged into molecules or crystals in different ways. Moreover, we shall return to the problem of explaining these differences in properties under Survey of Elements after we have developed an understanding of the nature of chemical bonding and how it influences the properties of substances.

Under the Survey of elements, this article has introduced some concepts of elements. Element is one of the most important section under the section of Classification of Matter.

You can refer to our full informative article about Classification of Matter, which widely describes Elements, Compounds, Mixtures, and many more.

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