The density of lead is in the upper midfield

The heavy metal lead consists of close-fitting atoms that lead to a high density. Compared to other metals, it is in the higher midfield. Its molecular structure, despite the high volume weight, ensures low material hardness, making lead a versatile and usable material.

Heaviest member of the carbon group

In the periodic table of the elements, the heavy metal lead to the carbon group together with the elements carbon, silicon, germanium and tin. In the carbon group, lead with the Latin abbreviation Pb for Plumbum or the Anglo-Saxon name Lead has the highest density of 11.34 grams per cubic centimeter.

Most higher density elements have properties that severely limit their use. Examples are radioactivity like uranium and rhodium, very high toxicity like mercury or the high price due to rarity like gold and titanium. Lead has about half the density of the densest known element osmium. Lead is less toxic than mercury.

Density of elements and materials

When comparing and classifying the density of lead, the density values ​​of other known and frequently occurring elements and materials help. They are given in kg / dm3 or as here in g / cm³:

SurnamecontractionDensity in g / cm³
concrete1.8 to 2.4
quartz glass2,2
cement3.0 to 3.1
Iron Steel7,7

Exploitation of the density of lead

Two of the best known ways to exploit the high density of lead are the uses as weights in, for example, fishing or modeling and as radiation protection. In former times, the high weight in a small volume was also used to complain curtains and curtains with a lead cord. However, the toxic properties of lead have almost eliminated these uses.

In model making, lead is used primarily to balance mobile and mobile structures such as vehicles and airplanes. Here, too, density plays the decisive role. Even small quantities of lead with a few cubic centimeters of expansion can form the required balance weights. A lead cube with the side measurements of two centimeters weighs about ninety grams.

The density was also used for weight balance and taring of car rims. These balancing weights are increasingly being replaced by the non-toxic materials steel and zinc. However, their lower density requires about a third more space or individual weight.

Projectiles and shot

A common use is lead in the form of projectiles. The most well-known ammunition is the lead shot. Sport shooting also uses differently shaped diabolos. Up to about ten meters, the high density of the lead ensures precise and predictable ballistic trajectories.

Lead also has sufficient hardness to survive the launch undeformed. For example, a punch can be made clean and counted on targets. Due to its toxic properties, lead hunting is rarely used as hunting ammunition. Here, too, the density ensures penetrating projectiles.

High density acts as radiation protection

The protective effect against X-rays and other radioactive radiation sources are mainly due to the molecular structure of the lead in its density. Put simply, many atoms pressed close to each other allow fewer rays to pass through. In this case, lead is chosen primarily because alternatives with similar or better shielding values, ie density, are considerably more expensive. Typical examples are copper, silver and gold.

Despite its density, lead can only "scavenge" some of the rays, which is why it is still trying to limit x-rays to the most necessary number of applications today. Since some lead ores have natural radioactive isotopes, low-radiation lead has to be used for the production of radiation protection.

Decrease in density on heating

Scientific measurements confirm the decrease in the density of lead when heated. As with most other elements, heating results in greater movement of atoms or molecules. This creates larger spaces and the density decreases. In the case of lead, however, the change is only significant in the scientific sense and can be neglected in practice.

Heating in° CDensity in

The average spatial extent of heating lead is estimated at 3.44 percent. This volume needs the liquid hot lead more to get the same weight after the decrease in density.

Tips & Tricks

The density of so-called lead, which is obtained from lead ore and acts as a material for the applications of all kinds, is subject to slight fluctuations, since there are only between 95 and 98 percent pure Werkblei. If you encounter metallurgical lead or fine lead, the material purity and therefore original density is more than 99 percent.

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