Can Iron Scratch Glass? (And Other Facts About Iron)

Yes, iron can scratch glass.

In this article, you’ll learn more about why it is that iron scratches glass, and about iron itself.

Can Iron Scratch Glass? (Let’s Learn More)

Iron is hard enough to make scratching impressions on glass, even with its own weight and no pressure.

Deeper scratches can be made when contacted with intentional direction as well.

While tempered glass holds up much better to such iron contact, over time even that version will show scratches and wear over time.

In fact, iron ore can leave small scratches that build up over time and create micro-gouges in the glass surface with enough exposure.

This is part of the problem with iron skillets and iron potware on glasstop ovens.

While iron per se doesn’t automatically leave big marks on glass, even when applied with pressure, it does scratch.

Worse, iron has weight and density which can easily crack or shatter glass if dropped or impacted.

Iron’s Background

Iron has been around almost as long as people have been able to melt metals and form them into tools.

While iron was not the very first metal used by humans for tools, it came around not that much later.

Copper and bronze came first.

However, once iron showed its use and function as being far more durable and useful than other metals, it became the fundamental infrastructure of most of humanity.

From tools to weapons to building structures to vessels, iron has been a critical element in the development of humanity’s technology.

Further, iron is the primary resource for steel, which in turn moved things even farther along the technology spectrum.

Almost 99 percent of the 19th and 20th centuries would not have happened without iron and steel.

Some would argue that might have been a good thing given all the conflicts that happened in those periods, but millions more people would not have come alive either.

Iron continues to be heavily used today.

Compared to other metals, iron ore is consumed and formed into tools or materials at least 20 times more than any other metal harvested from the earth.

While many of its original consumable forms such as cans and boxes have gone by the wayside, iron is still heavily used for I-beams in buildings and train rails, boats and ships, weaponry, and definitely for plumbing and tooling.

Elemental Information

On the chemistry table, iron is referred to by the symbol Fe, and it is extremely abundant, probably making up something over 5 percent of the Earth accessible by people.

The only elements that are more available include aluminum, oxygen, and silicon.

No surprise, iron has become a fundamental part of the world’s history as well.

Ironically, iron is not usually found in a simple ore form like any other rock.

Instead, iron tends to be combined with other rock types, which requires work and extensive mining to find it, break it apart, and create functional ore that can then be refined.

In ancient times, this often meant breaking ore down into small bits and powder, separating, and then heating it up as small bowls in high heat produced by fire coals.

Today, iron is separated from various rock types, including goethite, hematite, limontite, and magnetite.

The element is easy to find for one who knows what to look for because, as soon as iron is exposed to air and moisture, it begins to oxidize.

That red-brown rust color is the giveaway of iron’s presence.

Industrial Uses and Applications

As mentioned above, iron is regularly used to create steel, which in turn is fabricated into tools, parts, vehicles, assemblies and a lot more.

Furthermore, because iron and steel can be re-processed in most forms, they can be melted and reformed into more uses regardless of becoming broken or useless in their original form.

60 percent of steel today comes from recycled material versus raw, new harvested iron.

Iron also gains more use, function and strength when it is combined with other elements, ranging from carbon to other metals.

Doing so creates different molecular mixes that have different traits.

The most common is carbon, which creates steel as a mix of carbon and iron.

Steel is the most common use of refined iron today, and it can be produced in varying degrees of strength as well.

First Uses and Archaeological Record

The first known use of iron by humans was, ironically, not for tooling or rigidity.

Instead, hematite powder was a regularly used form of body paint or wall painting.

It was not until many centuries later that, as crafters began to develop in larger societies like the Sumerians and Egyptians, that early forms of iron forging began to appear.

At first, iron showed its moldable properties by hammering.

So, it became a desirable rock that could be pressured or impacted into a rough form that was useful.

Then, with fire, it became even more useful and distinct as iron could be melted and molded.

This was learned from copper and bronze production, metals found and refined much earlier than iron and the same technology was applied.

By the time the Romans arrived as an empire, iron was commonplace and used for everything from nails to chains to weapons and brackets for greater construction assemblies (think catapults, massive ships, and towers).

And, of course, by the Middle Ages and Renaissance, combined with gunpowder, iron became fundamental for projection weapons such as guns and cannons.

Extraction and Harvesting

As mentioned above, early harvesting of iron was done by hand, picking and pulling and cracking the ore from other stone.

Today’s harvesting is managed with large amounts of rock known to have iron scooped and trucked, broken apart mechanically and the ore separated from the waste and by-product.

Other minerals that can be used or sold are harvested along with the process as well, since iron is often combined with other materials in the earth.

Iron pits for industrial harvesting tend to be large, open-air and produce incredible amounts of the element before being exhausted.

However, the work also causes significant environmental damage and change, which today has now become a mitigation concern for mining operations.

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