Top 7 Strangest Metals (Periodic Table Edition)

By Ali Godden

Metals are very versatile and can be utilized for numerous applications including construction and all forms of vehicle manufacturing (automobiles, aeroplanes, ships, and railways etc.). They can also be used to produce home gadgets. The most common metals that we see as scrap metal buyers in Melbourne include aluminium, silver, copper, brass, and gold. It’s not always the usual suspects, though, which is why we thought we’d highlight seven of the stranger metals out there that you may come across.

1. Rhodium

Rhodium, number 45 on the periodic table. Rhodium is a hard, ultra-rare metal. It has a silvery-white appearance and boasts corrosion-resistant and chemically inert qualities. Belonging to the family of noble metals, rhodium is one of the rarest naturally occurring metals on planet Earth. Because of this, it is extremely costly to purchase. In 2013, it was selling for USD $925 per 28 grams. It is commonly used in jewellery and catalytic converters in vehicles – whether it be standalone or as an alloy combined with platinum or palladium.

2. Gallium

Gallium, number 31 on the periodic table. At room temperature, gallium is a soft, silvery, glass-like metal. Solid gallium, however, is brittle and a very poor electrical conductor. It is a post-transition metal. Gallium is an unusual metal because of how it reacts. Its melting point (29.76°C) is similar to our body temperature meaning we can melt it by simply holding it in our hands – yet, shatter it like glass when it is a solid. The oddest thing, though, is what happens when it is mixed with other metals. For example, combining gallium with dilute sulfuric acid and potassium dichromate results in a solution that beats like a living heart. Gallium itself is commonly used in a variety of electronic products.

3. Mercury

Mercury, number 80 on the periodic table. Mercury is a transition metal with a silvery-white colour and mirror-like lustre. It is a good conductor of heat and electricity and is a high-density metal. One of its defining properties that makes it so strange is its melting point (23°C). Mercury’s melting point is also coincidentally room temperature making it the only metal capable of melting at room temperature. It is commonly used in thermometers, barometers, and fluorescent lighting and is quite toxic to humans should they be exposed to it by touch or breathing vapours.

4. Ruthenium

Ruthenium, number 44 on the periodic table. Ruthenium is a lustrous and silvery hard metal with a shiny surface – kind of like foil wrap. It is a transition metal that is considered unusual for several reasons including how rare it is. Ruthenium is dubbed ‘the metal that can burn forever’ on account of it being suspected to be the catalyst behind the flames that have burned for over a thousand years in Turkey. Because of this quality, it is looked upon favourably for both oil refining and low-cost solar panels. It is also commonly used in jewellery. 

5. Curium

Curium, number 96 on the periodic table. Curium has a rugged, silvery appearance with a melting point of about 1,340°C (2,400°F) and a density of 13.5 grams per cubic centimetre. It is an actinoid element. Curium is an unusual metal because of how it glows in the dark. Curium is one of the most radioactive metals on the planet. Because of this, it is extremely toxic. It is predominantly used as a power source for electrical equipment during space exploration missions – for example, the x-ray spectrometers in the Mars rovers.

6. Copernicium

Copernicium, number 112 on the periodic table. Copernicium is an extremely radioactive, synthetic element which scientists still don’t know a lot about. As scrap metal buyers, we don’t often see it – and you probably won’t either. That’s because It has only been created a handful of times since its discovery in 1996. It is a transition metal, though is a gas at room temperature. Even so, it is still classified as a metal. This type of metal is quite rare and has no real-world applications at the moment – it is only used in research.

7. Bismuth

Bismuth, number 83 on the periodic table. Bismuth is a brittle, crystalline, white-pink metal. This post-transition metal’s unusual characteristic is how diamagnetic it is. This means that it is repelled by magnetic fields and, in turn, creates a repulsive force that pushes away any magnetic objects near it. If you were to place a magnetic piece of metal in between some Bismuth – it will levitate. It is commonly used as a colourant in cosmetics.


Did you know that approximately 80% of the periodic table is made up of metals?

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Contact us today by filling out the form on our website or by calling 03 5941 6677 to find out more about our 24-hour scrap metal pickup service.

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