123 Interesting Facts About Platinum That Will Surprise You

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Oct 05, 2023 By Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Originally Published on Jan 10, 2022
An interesting fact about platinum is that it can be beaten into a sheet as thin as 100 atoms.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 6.1 Min

There is more than one person who can claim credit for the discovery of platinum.

The word platinum is taken from the Spanish word 'platina' which translates to 'little silver' because of its color. It is so malleable that a single gram can be stretched to make a wire of 1.24 mi (2 km).

Antonio de Ulloa in 1735 and N. Wood in 1741 contributed to the discovery. However, the story of the Italian-French physicist Scaliger is the most prominent.

It is said that Scaliger was on a gold expedition in 1557 when he chanced upon this unknown noble metal near modern-day Mexico. He described it as not able to be liquefied by fire or Spanish methods.

Followed by this, William Hyde Wollaston was the first chemist to isolate platinum in its pure form in the year 1803.

Once discovered, the wonders of this unique metal were widely researched, and platinum was incorporated in not only the jewelry industry but many others. Even the frame of the crown of Queen Elizabeth II is made using platinum.

You can never know too much. To quench that thirst, you can also check out facts about plastic and three magnetic metals to add to your wisdom.

Fun Facts About Platinum

Platinum can be found in its native form in small quantities with other metals.

South Africa produces the bulk of industrial platinum, followed by Russia. Deposits have also been found in Finland, Ireland, and Brazil.

When found in its native form in the past, pre-Columbian South American natives could make use of it. They found it near the alluvial sands near various rivers.

The alloy of white gold and platinum was used to make artifacts.

In the Bushveld Igneous Complex, South Africa, the Merensky Reef holds the largest geological reserves of platinum known to mankind.

Since pure platinum is scarce, it makes up no more than 0.005 parts per million of our planet's crust. That explains why platinum is considered so special, right?

While that may be the case, platinum is found in a little more abundance in outer space. Moon rocks, as well as meteorites, show a higher percentage of platinum deposits.

There is an asteroid by the name of Psyche 16 between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars which is supposed to have tons of platinum, with other metals like gold and nickel. NASA has reportedly approved the mission of 2022 to explore this asteroid.

Scientific Facts About Platinum

Platinum (Pt) is a chemical element.

Platinum group metals are found in six different types, including iridium and rhodium, for example.

Platinum (Pt) is present on the periodic table as the third element on the 10th column.

Inside the nucleus of this transition metal, the atomic structure consists of 78 protons along with 117 neutrons. The electron shells hold 78 electrons.

Platinum is extremely resistant. It can withstand almost any chemical attack as well as corrosion. Even nitric acids and hydrochloric acids cannot dissolve platinum. Because of this amazing stability, it is called a noble metal. However, this precious metal is not invincible. In cases where both nitric and hydrochloric acid are combined to create aqua regia, platinum easily dissolves.

Platinum is also used in alloys. Iridium is often mixed in negligible amounts with platinum to create a stronger platinum alloy without giving up on the perks of the pure form.

Such alloys are regarded in high esteem, especially in the chemical laboratory. For dishes that need to be heated up, or crucibles, or even electrodes, this precious metal is the savior. Since it can resist intensely high temperatures and chemical attacks by electrical arcs, this metal is a prized possession.

Natural and pure platinum occurs in nature in six stable isotopic forms.

Amazing Facts About Platinum

As platinum is a rare metal, it is often associated with honorary awards and ranks and placed even higher than other precious metals like gold.

Platinum ore mines are harder to locate than one might think. 90% of all the world's platinum comes from four main sites. One is in Russia. The rest are in South Africa.

100 ton (100,000 kg) of platinum are produced each year. That might sound like a large number, but it is trivial compared to other metals, like gold or steel. Pure platinum mines are that much harder to find naturally. However, platinum can now be produced by refining nickel from copper and nickel ores.

This precious metal was also considered a strategic metal during World War II in the United States. That is why the production of platinum, apart from military needs, was banned entirely.

Platinum is so heavy and dense that only a 6 in (15.24 cm) cube of this metal will weigh similar to an average human being. It is one of the purest precious metals that one can find.

Russia used platinum for manufacturing coins in 1828 for the first time.

Facts About Platinum In Our Everyday Life

Platinum is required in various sectors of our daily life.

It is considered a valuable metal when it comes to jewelry making. Platinum jewelry will not get tarnished or corroded. Moreover, it is non-toxic, making it a great option for jewelry.

Apart from jewelry, it also comes to aid for various medical needs, from dental crowns to being an anti-tumor agent.

Platinum is the only suitable metal for electrodes inside a pacemaker.

Expensive watch brands like Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Vacheron Constantin use platinum metal for creating their limited edition products.

Because of the high stability of this metal, it is also used for international mass standards and currency. The international metric kilogram at the Bureau of Standards is still represented by a platinum-iridium cylinder, created way back in 1879. For the very same reason, platinum is also used as currency and for investment.

The metal is also widely used in catalytic converters.

Alloys of platinum and cobalt can be used as permanent magnets.

The thought that such an important metal was originally dismissed as an impurity in gold by Spanish metal refiners around 1575 is unimaginable!

Platinum Melting Point

The melting point of platinum is 3,215 F (1,768 C).

Platinum cannot be melted with a simple fire. Because of its resistance to high temperatures, it is prized greatly for various laboratory equipment. To melt platinum, a natural gas-oxygen, a propane-oxygen, or a hydrogen-oxygen fuel combination is often used. This is because only oxygen can create that hot of a flame.

Among platinum metals, ruthenium has the highest melting point. Since the metal could not be melted easily, the process of finding out how to melt it was not easy either.

Lavoisier was the first one to successfully melt platinum (Pt). Even then, Lavoisier's method was not feasible for the commercial production of platinum in bulk as we know now.

It was with the efforts of Henri Saint-Claire Deville and Jules Henri Debray that, for the first time, molten platinum could be created in large-scale production. By the 19th century, molten platinum was already introduced in commercial use, spearheaded by George Matthey.

The boiling point of platinum is 6,917 F (3,825 C).

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 123 interesting facts about platinum that will surprise you then why not take a look at are magnets metal or characteristics of alkali metals.

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Written by Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason

Bachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason picture

Adekunle Olanrewaju JasonBachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

With over 3+ years of professional experience, Olanrewaju is a certified SEO Specialist and Content Writer. He holds a BSc in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. Throughout his dynamic career, Olanrewaju has successfully taken on various roles with startups and established organizations. He has served as a Technical Writer, Blogger, SEO Specialist, Social Media Manager, and Digital Marketing Manager. Known for his hardworking nature and insightful approach, Olanrewaju is dedicated to continuous learning and improvement.
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