Three Popular Metals and Their History

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Humans use metals for all kinds of things, and they are a useful part of our modern lives. From the steel used for building, the aluminium used for aeroplanes and the copper used in plumbing, like these copper pipe fittings metals are all around us. Although we think of them as modern, here are some of the first ever uses of these metals…

Copper – Copper has a history of use that goes back for thousands of years. It is not definite when copper was first used as it was such a long time ago, but there has been evidence of use of copper for things like jewellery, tools and weapons that date back to around 8000 BC. The earliest of these items have been found in the middle eastern countries, in what now are Turkey and Iraq. Early copper would have been made into shapes by hammering, this was long before the copper ore and smelting process was discovered. This then changed many things, improving the processes and the items that could be made from copper.

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Aluminium – Aluminium has a shorter history – it wasn’t discovered until 1825, by a chemist from Holland called Hans Christian Oersted. He made lots of discoveries whilst researching electricity and magnetism, and in 1825 he first produced aluminium. Despite this being discovered early in the 19th Century, it wasn’t until later on in the Century that it started to make its way into popular use. Nowadays aluminium is used for all sorts, from the aerospace industry to tinfoil. A light and versatile metal that is as popular as ever.

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Steel – Around 1800 BC steel was believed to have first been used in what is now Turkey. The Roman Empire also used steel for their weapons and armour. China also used steel around 3AD, many of their techniques for making it were ahead of their time. It was during the Industrial Revolution that steel really started to come into its own, when the inventor Sir Henry Bessemer revolutionised the process of steel making, creating the process known as the Bessemer technique. This technique was the way that steel was made well into the 21st Century and one of the most important discoveries of the Industrial Revolution.

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