There are 92 naturally found elements, 8 of which form 98 percent of the earth’s crust (Earth’s outer layer).
The 8 most common elements in Earth’s crust (by mass) are :
46.6% Oxygen (O)
27.7% Silicon (Si)
8.1% Aluminum (Al)
5.0% Iron (Fe)
3.6% Calcium (Ca)
2.8% Sodium (Na)
2.6% Potassium (K)
2.1% Magnesium (Mg)
Uses of common Elements
Of the ninety two elements found in the Earth, forty of them are used in our daily lives. Here is the list of uses of these elements:
Antimony is a metal that is used along with alloys to create batteries for storing grid power. It is silvery gray and can be found in its pure form in nature, an uncommon characteristic.
Asbestos has an unsavory reputation for causing cancer in people who work around it. It is a fibrous mineral with incredible fire retarding properties. Although asbestos has a bad reputation, when polished it becomes the well known and popular ‘Tiger Eye’ stone.
Barium is a common element used in x-ray technology, fireworks, rubber and glass making and rat poison. It is a soft, white metallic element and alkaline.
Bauxite is a sedimentary rock that is an important ore of aluminum. The aluminum content in it is leeched from the soil above.
Beryllium is an alkaline metallic element that is highly toxic. It is known for its sugary sweet taste and some of its common uses are in X-rays and fluorescent lights.
Chromite is the ore of chromium and is a very hard metal, and diamond is the only thing harder. This hardness is what allows a chrome finish to take a high polish.
Cobalt is famous for the incredible blue color it imparts to glass and pigment. It has been found in meteorites and is used in invisible ink. It is a brittle metal and resembles iron.
Columbite-tantalite group is a mineral used widely in technology. Electronics, automotive systems and health products like the pacemaker need this mineral to operate. It is mined in Africa and has earned the name of Coltan over the last few years.
Copper is a common metal throughout the world. It is used for currency, jewelry, plumbing and to conduct electricity. It is a soft, orange-red metal.
Feldspar is the most common mineral on Earth. Since it is most commonly found in granite, this mineral is used mostly as a building material.
Fluorite (fluorspar) is commonly used to create fluorescent pigment and since it is very beautiful, it is used for gem material. It is mined all over the world.
Gold is the most familiar metal to most people. It is used for jewelry, dentistry, electronics and a host of other applications. It is the most malleable metal which increases the way it can be used.
Gypsum is a very soft mineral with a variety of uses, most commonly in drywall, also known as sheet rock. It is also used as a fertilizer and road construction.
Halite (sodium chloride--salt) is used for seasoning food and softening water. It is also used to make certain acids, in fire extinguishers and melting ice on the road.
Iron Ore is perhaps as important to civilization today as gold historically has been. It is used in all sorts of construction from vehicles to buildings.
Lead has a bad reputation for its poisoning capabilities, some of which may have been exaggerated by fear. It cannot be absorbed by the skin or breathing, but it is harmful if it touches food or drink. It was at one time used in paint, pencils and eating utensils.
Lithium is used in several applications including medication for bipolar symptoms and batteries. Lithium has become very popular with the advent of electric cars.
Manganese with iron impurities can be slightly magnetic. It is essential in the steel making process, and petroglyphs were carved into it in the Southwest.
Mica is the mineral responsible for putting a sparkle on many rocks. This mineral is very flexible, and large sheets of it were used as window glass in the past.
Molybdenum is essential for supporting all life forms because it is essential for utilizing nitrogen.
Nickel is a common metal in everyday life. It has been used in currency, jewelry and eating utensils and is used in alloys as well.
Perlite is created from volcanic rock. It is a lightweight substance with great water bearing characteristics. It is the white stuff found in some potting soils.
Platinum Group Metals (PGM) are rare and therefore expensive. They are commonly used in jewelry but technology also benefits from them. The largest source of platinum and the members of its family is from the by product of nickel mines.
Phosphate is necessary for all life on earth
Potash is the old fashioned term for Potassium. Potassium is a major component in crop fertilizer around the world. It is very important in the human body since it works with salt regulating the pressure inside and outside the body’s cell walls. It is also used in soap manufacture.
Pyrite is commonly known as ‘fools gold.’ It is frequently seen in granite rocks where it adds sparkle. Native Americans polished it to use as a mirror, and it is occasionally used in jewelry. Its byproduct is used in ink and disinfectants.
Quartz (silica) is the most abundant mineral on earth. It is the name for a large family of rocks including the jaspers, agates, onyxes and flints. Quartz is used in concrete, glass, scientific instruments and watches. Most importantly today, it is used to make silicon semiconductors.
Rare Earth Elements
Rare Earth Elements (lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium ytterbium and lutetium) Many of these are used to create nuclear power.
Silica is used in desiccants to remove moisture from the air. It is also used in sandpaper and glass making.
Silver is one of the precious metals. It is used as currency and in jewelry making. It is also used in medicine due to its anti microbial properties.
Sodium Carbonate (soda ash or trona) is used to control the pH of products. It is used to make glass, paper, detergents and for softening.
Stibnite is a major ore of antimony which is used in fireworks, rubber and glass making. It is minded principally in Romania.
Sulfur is one of the only minerals to be found in its pure form in nature. It is a major ingredient in acid rain but it also is used in wine making and fruit preservation.
Tantalum is used when an alloy needs a high melting point and strength. It is used in missiles, aircraft parts and vacuums.
Titanium is one of the most abundant and toughest metals on Earth. It is used extensively in human body repair.
Tungsten is a metal that is stronger than steel and a high melting temperature. It is also used to make saw blades and used in welding.
Uranium is a highly radioactive element. It is used in cancer treatments, X-rays, military weapons and fuel for the space shuttle.
Vanadium is found in many foods and helps bones grow. It is useful in regulating blood sugar in diabetics and helps grow muscles for bodybuilders.
Zeolite is known as the ‘stone that dances’. It is used in wastewater cleanup and since it can absorb ammonia, it is used in kitty litter and reducing other animal smells.
Zinc is essential for a healthy life. Zinc deficiency can cause rashes, diarrhea, impaired taste and eye problems. It is used to macular degeneration, diabetes and the common cold.