Is alloy an element?

Alloys, metallic substances composed of two or more elements, can be either compounds or solutions. The constituents of alloys are usually metals themselves, although carbon is a non-metal and is an essential constituent of steel.

Alloys are usually produced by melting a mixture of components. The value of alloys was discovered far away; brass (copper and zinc) and bronze (copper and tin) were especially important. Today, the most important are alloy steels, which broadly refer to steels that contain significant amounts of elements other than iron and carbon. The main alloying elements of steel are chromium, nickel, manganese, molybdenum, silicon, tungsten, vanadium and boron. Alloy steels have a wide range of special properties such as hardness, toughness, corrosion resistance, magnetizability and ductility. Non-ferrous alloys, mainly copper-nickel alloys, bronze and aluminum alloys, are used in large quantities in coinage. The distinction between alloying metals and impurities is sometimes subtle. For example, in aluminum, silicon may be considered an impurity or a valuable component, depending on the application, as silicon increases strength but reduces corrosion resistance.

Catalan hearths or furnaces used to smelt iron ore until recently. The filling method of fuel and ore and the approximate location of the nozzles supplying air through bellows are shown.

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Metallurgy: Alloying

Almost all metals are used as alloys—that is, mixtures of several elements—because these metals have properties superior to pure metals…

Fusible metals or fusible alloys refer to a group of alloys with a melting point lower than that of tin (232°C, 449°F). Most of these substances are mixtures of metals that themselves have low melting points, such as tin, bismuth, and lead. Fusible alloys are used as solder, safety sprinklers that automatically spray water when the heat of fire melts the alloy, and fuses that interrupt electrical circuits when the current gets too high.