Aluminum is a metallic element that conducts electricity. It is not very dense, so its lightweight nature makes it more useful for manufacturing than iron or lead.
Aluminum is the most abundant metal found on Earth, but it is not found very often found in its pure form. It is normally found in minerals, like bauxite. Aluminum is an element with an atomic number of 13 and an atomic weight of 27. It is solid at room temperature and has a melting point of 660°C (1221°F).
Aluminum has many uses due to its low density and low reactivity (aluminum is relatively reactive, but forms a tough layer of aluminum oxide on the surface). Even though aluminum is not as conductive as copper, it is often preferred for electric wiring as its density is less than a third of copper.
Although aluminum compounds had been used to set dyes and treat wounds by ancient civilizations, metallic aluminum wasn’t refined until 1825. Hans Christian Ørsted heated aluminum oxide with potassium which produced a small sample which wasn’t very pure. Aluminum is separated from its ores using electrolysis. Electrolysis is the process of separating a substance using electricity. Up to 5% of the electricity used in the USA is used for making aluminum. Even though aluminum uses a lot of energy to mine and refine, it is relatively simple to recycle and is extremely useful in manufacturing and construction.
Note: outside of North America, aluminum is more commonly know as aluminium.