Aluminum is very versatile, and the uses for it may surprise you. It is available in many forms and is found as pure aluminum or as an alloy that contains another metal that enhances the properties of the aluminum.
What Is Aluminum?
Aluminum is a naturally occurring chemical element found in the earth's crust. It is the third most abundant element that is found on the planet. The material is durable and lightweight, resistant to corrosion, and easily produced from the ore, Bauxite. Aluminum is not found in its raw form but is combined with many different materials and requires extracting of the element from the ore and other materials before using it.
Weight and Strength
Aluminum is a non-magnetic metal, so there are times when it is a better fit than steel or iron. Because aluminum is exceptionally light, it is an excellent choice for constructing things that need to be portable. The strength of aluminum products is in the structure, not the material, so aluminum tubing is much stronger than sheets of aluminum, but if the sheet is formed into a specific shape like a can, it becomes much stronger and remains lightweight. The melting point is lower on aluminum than on many other metals, but it can be welded together if the heat is controlled.
Uses For Aluminum
Aluminum is all around you, and the uses for it are varied. Often aluminum is used to make window and door frames for homes, and because it is highly corrosion resistant, it can withstand exposure to weather for many years without a lot of maintenance. Aluminum is used in beverage cans, packaging to keep food warm, as a material in cars, and so much more. It can be formed, extruded, or cast depending on your needs and is still lighter than most other metals in its class.
Aluminum is an excellent material for recycling. The aluminum can't be combined with other metals in the recycling process, so sorting it is essential. If you recycle aluminum, the price you receive for it increases dramatically if it is already sorted or clean. If you are recycling old aluminum storm windows, for instance, removing the screws and rubber trim on the frame can change the material from dirty to clean and increase the price the recycler will pay you for it. Beverage cans are another great way to recycle aluminum. They are plentiful, and if you collect enough of them, you can make a little extra money from them. Because of the weight, it is a good idea to crush them and save them until you have a large stockpile to make the best profit on them.