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Tungsten is one of the toughest metals found naturally. It has a high melting point and tensile strength and is resistant to corrosion. Because of its strength, it is typically mixed with other elements to make the most of its properties. It is also extremely dense. This can lead to some interesting applications such as aircraft and motorsport ballast weights, darts and anti-vibration tooling.
The most common use for tungsten is the production of alloys. This process involves mixing and melting two or more different metals to create a new compound with different characteristics than the original metal. Some of the most common alloys include tungsten carbide (tungsten and carbon), Hastelloy (nickel, chrome, molybdenum and tungsten) and some tungsten nickel alloys.
While it is possible to melt tungsten at home, it requires specialized equipment and strict safety protocols. For example, a tungsten furnace capable of reaching temperatures exceeding 6,100 degrees Fahrenheit is required to work with this metal. An inert gas like argon or nitrogen and protective gear are also necessary when working with this element.
Tungsten has a silver-white appearance and is very hard and brittle. It is also extremely dense, making it difficult to machine and requiring special tools for cutting. Tungsten is usually combined with other metals to enhance its properties and create alloys that are more practical for everyday uses. Tungsten has the highest melting point and tensile strength of any other element. It is extracted from the minerals wolframite and scheelite. It is named for its Swedish word, tunga, meaning heavy stone, and has the atomic number 74 and symbol W.