Periodic Table -> Lithium


Lithium Details

Lithium Symbol: Li

Lithium Atomic Number: 3

Lithium Atomic Weight: 6.939

What is Lithium?

Lithium is a member of the alkali group of metals. It is soft, silvery-white in color with the symbol Li, located under number 3 in the table. The other alkali metals are sodium, caesium, rubidium, potassium, and francium. Alkali metals are similar in that as you go down the table, their electro-negativity is reduced while their reactivity increases. Their boiling and melting points also decrease when moving in this direction.

Lithium is the least dense and least heavy element of all the solid elements. It is highly flammable and reactive, which is why it is usually conserved in mineral oil (a type of paraffin). It is highly reactive with air and when it comes into contact with air, its metallic surface quickly changes to a dull gray, then blackish. This element never occurs freely in nature, of course, only as part of an ionic compound. Lithium is often obtained from clay and brine. It is also isolated synthetically from potassium and lithium chloride.

Lithium is a relatively unstable element because its stable isotopes have a very low binding energy level. This means they are not prone to fission, which is breaking down. This is why, lithium is less common in the galaxy than some other elements with a higher atomic weight. Lithium was used in a nuclear experiment predating the creation of the nuclear bomb by a long term. Its atoms were transformed to helium in 1932.

Lithium is the least dense of all elements, which are not in gaseous form. The next lightest element, potassium, is almost twice as dense. Lithium, hydrogen, and helium are the least dense elements in a liquid or solid state.

Regarding applications of the element, lithium and the compounds of lithium are used to make alloys for aircraft, batteries, in heat-resistant ceramics and glass, and other commercial applications. Lithium is also used in greases.
Being a strong base, lithium hydroxide produces soap when heated with fat. It is made of lithium stearate and can thicken oils. Thus, lithium soap is used in the production of high-temperature, all-purpose greases. Lithium has other industrial and chemical uses as well. Lithium bromide and lithium chloride are employed as desiccants, which are hydroscopic substances that sustain or induce a state of dryness. Metallic lithium, Li[AlH4], and other of its complex hydrides are employed as high-energy additives to rocket propellants. In addition, lithium nitrate, lithium perchlorate, lithium chlorate, and lithium peroxide are used in oxygen candles and as oxidizers in rocket propellants. An important lithium compound, lithium hydroxide is obtained from another compound lithium carbonate.

There are small amounts of lithium in all organisms, but it is not vital to their existence. Lithium is also used to treat symptoms of bipolar disorder and other psychiatric disorders. It is present as an ingredient in a number of widely used mood stabilizers. Actually, lithium was the first mood stabilizer to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration of the United States. It is widely used to this day. However, the amounts should not exceed 1.2 mEq/L (or millimolar). Overdosing on lithium can be quite painful. Symptoms of a lithium overdose include nausea, vomiting, lack of muscle coordination, and diarrhea. Other, less frequent side effects include tremors and blurred vision. If this happens, you need a lower dose.

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