Metals Webquest
How We Get Pure Metals
1. Least reactive metals: found in pure (‘native’) form. Which are these?
2. Fairly reactive metals: found as ores (compounds, often oxides or carbonates), and can be extracted
using carbon to reduce the metal compound to the pure metal. Which are these?
3. Very reactive metals: also found as ores, but cannot be extracted using carbon. Instead they are
extracted using electrolysis. Which are these?
4. Briefly describe the details of electrolysis. Why it is particularly important to recycle the metals which
we extract this way:
Environmental and Social Impact of Mining and Extraction
5. Describe three environmental or social issues relating to the mining of metal ores.
Iron and Steel
The following pages will helps you answer the following…. (and links from there)
6. ‘Pig iron’ is the iron that comes out of a blast furnace. It is not pure iron. After it has been cast into
shapes using moulds it is then called cast iron.
a) What are the properties of cast iron?
b) Give three uses of cast iron.
7. Various methods have been used over the centuries to obtain pure iron. What are the properties of
pure iron?
8. Wrought iron is iron that is pure or almost pure, in particular containing very little carbon. It was used
to make decorative items, such as gates. It is no longer made on a large scale, and the last manufacturer
of wrought iron in the UK closed down in 1976. These days steel is used instead of wrought iron.
What do we mean by ‘steel’?
9. What are the properties of ‘low-carbon’ or mild steel? State two uses.
10. What are the properties of ‘high-carbon’ steel? State two uses.
11. a) In ‘stainless steel’, which metal beginning with ‘c’ is mixed with the iron?
b) What special property does stainless steel have?
c) State two uses of stainless steel.
Other Metals and Their Alloys
First watch the video on alloys at:
Then use
and any other useful sites you can find.
12. What are ‘transition metals’? What are their typical properties and uses?
13. Pure copper, aluminium and gold are too soft for many uses and are usually used as alloys instead.
For each of these three metals, find out the name, composition and uses of one of its alloys.
14. We are running out of copper ores which are rich in copper. We are going to have to use ‘low-grade’
ore instead. What is low-grade ore, and what are the problems associated with using it?
15. Copper ore can be reduced to copper using carbon, or by ‘roasting’ the ore in air. However, it is often
then purified using electrolysis. What do we use very pure copper for? Why do we usually choose copper
for this use, and not other metals?
16. Aluminium and titanium are useful because of their relatively low density and resistance to corrosion.
Give two common uses of each.
17. Why are aluminium and titanium particularly expensive to extract?
18. What is a ‘smart alloy’?
Next, watch the video at:
19. The smart alloy ‘nitinol’ is used for making dental braces. Why is this better for the job than an
ordinary alloy?
20. Find out another use for a smart alloy:

Metals Webquest