No, Calcium is not magnetic, despite it being classified as a metal substance.
If you are as fascinated as we are with its physical and chemical properties, then read on.
We will describe exactly what Calcium is, what it does, and why its lack of magnetic properties is important.
We’ll also be looking at its unique physical characteristics, and why they are so important for human health.
We’ll also touch on its use in manufacturing, industry, and research.
Is Calcium Magnetic? (EXPLAINED)
Although calcium in its pure elemental form is a metal, it is non-magnetic.
Unlike iron and any metals containing iron that is magnetic, calcium is not attracted to the poles of a magnet.
Calcium joins other metals such as copper, aluminum, gold, and silver that are similarly not magnetic.
What is Calcium?
With an atomic number of 20 and the symbol Ca, calcium is classified as an alkaline earth metal.
It is the fifth element in the periodic table and the third most abundant metal in the earth’s crust.
Calcium is trimorphic, having three distinct forms.
It is softer than aluminum but harder than sodium.
Despite calcium being classified as a metal in its pure form, it is paramagnetic.
This means that it lacks the free electrons necessary for it to be attracted to the poles of a magnet.
For magnetism to occur, a material needs unpaired electrons.
In the case of iron, which has lots of them, they link up into big domains of unpaired electrons all aligned the same way.
This is not the case with calcium, as it has all its electrons paired up.
Since each pair of electrons will always line up opposite one another in their orbits, they cancel each other’s magnetic field, one pair at a time.
While calcium in mineral form is commonly associated with healthy bones and teeth, it also plays an important role in blood clotting, helping muscles to contract and regulating normal heart rhythms and nerve functions.
Calcium is made up of the following six isotopes:
- Calcium-40 (96.94%)
- Calcium-44 (2.09%)
- Calcium-42 (0.65%)
and in smaller proportions:
Nutritional studies and other clinical research are conducted using calcium isotopes such as Ca-42, Ca-44, Ca-46, and Ca-48.
Due to the critical nature of calcium absorption in humans, these isotopes form the basis of studies, specifically in women and children.
Calcium’s Physical Characteristics and Description
Calcium is a relatively soft, reactive metal that will rapidly tarnish when exposed to air.
When in contact with oxygen, calcium forms a dark oxide-nitride layer.
You can identify calcium by its silvery-white color (sometimes described as a pale yellow).
Calcium is a harder metal than lead, but it is still malleable and ductile.
It is considered a poorer conductor of electricity than copper or aluminum in terms of volume, but in terms of mass, it is a better conductor because of its very low density.
You will find that calcium metal melts at 842° Celsius (1547.6° Fahrenheit) and boils at 1495° Celsius (2723° Fahrenheit).
These values are higher than those for the neighboring group 2 metals, magnesium, and strontium.
Calcium will crystallize in a face-centered cubic arrangement just like strontium.
When heated above 450 degrees Celsius, it will change to an anisotropic hexagonal, close-packed arrangement like magnesium.
Is Calcium a Metal?
Pure calcium is classified as a metal.
It is a member of the alkaline earth elements family (Group 2).
Calcium does not occur naturally in a pure state in nature, thus it is not classified as a mineral.
It is considered a metal because it is more likely to give away its two valence electrons in the outermost shell to reach the configuration of Argon.
What does magnetic mean?
A property’s magnetic ability refers to its ability to attract the poles of a magnet through magnetism.
Magnetic materials are always made of metal.
However, not all metals are magnetic.
To become magnetized, another substance that has a strong magnetic pull must be present and must be within the magnetic field of an existing magnet.
There are different types of magnetism and they behave in a multitude of ways.
These are examples of magnetism:
- Para-magnetism – attraction to magnetic fields
- Dia-magnetism – repelled by magnetic fields
- Ferro-magnetism – a permanent magnet
To magnetize calcium, one would need to bring it into close proximity with a strong magnetic material such as a lodestone.
Lodestone is a term used to describe a magnet in its natural state.
This stone is permanently magnetized and is considered the most magnetic mineral present on earth.
In 1845, lodestones became commonly known as magnetite.
They mainly consist of a black mineral of iron and oxygen or iron hydroxide which develops naturally through volcanic activity and has its own magnetic properties.
What makes Calcium Non-Magnetic?
Magnetism is caused by the motion of electric charges within a substance.
Electrons spinning in the same direction, as in iron, cobalt, and nickel, cause atoms to become strongly magnetic.
However, these materials are not considered magnets as they lose their magnetism when removed from a magnetic field.
In contrast, calcium has all of its electrons paired up and as each pair always lines up opposite each other when orbiting, they will cancel out each other’s magnetic field one pair at a time.
It follows, therefore, that despite calcium’s classification as a metal, it will not display magnetic qualities.
Physical Characteristics of Calcium
In typical conditions, calcium is encountered as a silvery-white colored metal.
When high chemical activity is present, calcium is known to form many different compounds which belong to different classes.
The ability for calcium to form many different compounds is an important quality within the realms of technical and industrial chemical synthesis.
Calcium is found at a distribution of approximately 1.5% within natural structures and is spread widely throughout the earth’s crust.
It is classified as an alkaline earth element due to the alkalis it forms when it dissolves in water.
In its natural form, it is found in countless minerals and salts, with seawater having a particularly high concentration of calcium.
Due to its paired electrons, calcium is non-magnetic.
This is an example of a naturally occurring metal that has no magnetism due to the absence of iron.
It is a soft metal that tarnishes rapidly when exposed to air and is a harder metal than lead yet still remains malleable and ductile.
It does not occur naturally in a pure state, which differentiates it from minerals, and is classified as a nonmagnetic metal.
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