13Al Aluminum

Year Discovered


Discovered By

Hans Oersted of Denmark

Biological Rating

Necessary for all life.


Named from the Latin word alum, aluminum is a relatively soft, ductile and malleable silvery metal. It is the most common metal present in the Earth’s crust and the third most common element (after oxygen and silicon). It is moderately reactive and never found in pure form in nature. When it is alloyed with magnesium, copper and silicon, it forms a much stronger metal. Aluminum has hundreds of uses, from aircraft and vehicle parts, to building material, beverage cans, wrapping foil and just about any application where a lightweight metal is needed.

Biological Benefits

Until recently, aluminum was thought to be useless to life processes. It is now thought to be involved in the action of a small number of enzymes.

Role in Life Processes

Beneficial for full health in plants and animals.


As might be expected of the third most common element in the Earth’s crust, aluminum is present in a great number of minerals, and is relatively rich in clay, alunite and mica minerals. It is uneconomical to extract it from them, however. Aluminum chiefly is obtained from the minerals diaspore, boehmite, and gibbsite which comprise bauxite ore. It is mined in Australia, Guinea, Jamaica, Brazil and India. Other aluminum-bearing minerals include corundum (rubies and sapphires) and topaz.