Iron is fourth most common element found in the Earth’s crust. It forms an integral part of both the Earth's outer and inner core. Iron is a chemical element which lies in the first transition series. Chemically it is identified with the symbol 'Fe'derived from the Latin word ferrum. The atomic number of Iron is 26. Like other Group 8 elements, Iron exhibits wide array of oxidation states starting from −2 to + 6. +2 and +3 are the most common oxidative states of Iron. This element is highly reactive to oxygen and water. On being oxidized, Iron is converted to iron oxide known as rust. Unlike oxide layers, Iron oxides flake off easily and expose fresh surfaces for corrosion. Fresh Iron surface possess a lustrous silvery-gray hue. Pure Iron is softer than aluminium. The metal can be hardened and strengthened by addition of impurities such as carbon, silicon, sulphur, and phosphorus during the smelting process. In the blast furnaces, crude Iron metal is produced when iron ore is reduced by coke to cast iron.
It is assumed that Iron was discovered in South East Asian region about 4000 years ago. At that period, Iron was rated more expensive than gold. In 1200 BC, the "Iron Age" begun. In this period, the method of extraction and working method improved. Early users developed sophisticated hammering techniques, replacing casting procedures.
The melting point of Iron is 1535°C, boiling point is 2750°C, specific gravity is 7.874 (20°C). There are four allotropic of Iron known as ferrites: alpha (a), beta (b), gamma (g), and delta (d). Alpha (a) has a transition point at 770°C, beta (b) has a transition point at 928°C, and gamma (g) has a transition point at 1530°C. The alpha form has magnetic properties, but when transformed into the beta form, its magnetic property disappears.
Iron is the most critical mineral needed by the human body. The element red cell aids in the transportation of oxygen between the cells. Iron also assists with the synthesis of different enzymes responsible for various metabolic functions. Iron is a key constituent of hemoglobin in the red blood cells. Hemoglobin transports oxygen from the lung cells to other organs. Besides, Iron plays a pivotal role in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), powerhouse in human body. Deficiency of Iron in human body means less amount of oxygen in our body. Eventually, our body becomes incapable to continue regular essential mechanisms. Deficiency of iron is medically termed as anemia. It must be treated with regular iron supplements containing iron gluconate compounds.