The elements are what everything is made of. They all come from stars that exploded a long time ago, and before that they were in the Big Bang.  Some of the elements are just around in the air or in the water or in the earth, but others are hard to find, really rare, or mixed in with other things.  Some of them are dangerous because they are radioactive or poisonous or very reactive (this means they explode!)

In a way the elements are a bit like the primary colours: they just are and then you can do amazing things by combining them together in different ways.

I am collecting as many of the elements as I can.  There are 118 of them altogether, but some of them don’t really exist properly yet. Some of them I can’t get because they cost a lot of money or are dangerous.  Some of my samples are ‘pure’ samples, and some of them are in the form of every day objects.

The last few elements in the table have now been created in labs for long enough to be named (this happened in June 2016).

I want to say a great big thank you to Dr Bunhead, Robin, Gavin, Dave, Jen, Sammy & David, mum, grandad, and all the other people who have been helping me with my collection. 

Here is a very very cool site all about the elements.

And this is an even cooler site which tells you lots about the elements and how to collect them.

Here is a picture of the periodic table of the elements.


These are the elements.  The ones I already have are in red.  So far I have collected 43 elements!

1 – H Hydrogen
In a Glowstick from a Subway toy.
2 – He – Helium
Helium escapes even from balloons, so to store it you need a special gas canister.
3 – Li – Lithium
Lithium Battery
4 – Be – Beryllium

5 – B – Boron
My boron sample is some fibreglass

6 – C – Carbon
Carbon comes in lots of forms including the graphite in a pencil. I also have a pure sample from a lab (on a silicon wafer).
7 – N – Nitrogen

78% of the air we breathe is nitrogen.
8 – O – Oxygen
Also in the air we breathe. It’s a fire hazard to keep it at home.
9 – F – Fluorine
This is in non-stick frying pans
10 – Ne – Neon
In neon lights
11 – Na – Sodium
On its own it explodes in water. Mine is in salt (Sodium Chloride)
12 – Mg – Magnesium
I have a magnesium strip from my chemistry set.
13 – Al – Aluminium
I have a cigar case made of this. It is very light, used in aircraft.
14 – Si – Silicon

They use this in computer chips and also in silica gel (dessicant). I have both. Also, some of my other pure samples are on silicon wafers cut from a massive silicon crystal 45cm wide and several metres high (which is in a lab).
15 – P – Phosphorus
Red Phosphorus is in matches. White phosphorus is too dangerous.
16 – S – Sulphur
This is yellow and comes out of volcanoes. My sample is some grains of fertiliser.
17 – Cl – Chlorine
They use this in swimming pools to keep the water clean.
My samples are in bleach (liquid) and powder for a hot tub.
18 – Ar – Argon
A cheap inert gas used in light bulbs and even in packets of crisps! It’s useful for things because it doesn’t really do anything, so other things don’t tend to react with it. 
19 – K – Potassium
By itself it explodes in water!
My sample is Potassium hydroxide in an alkaline battery.
20 – Ca – Calcium
On its own it’s a metal, but my sample is in my tooth.
21 – Sc – Scandium
Scandium burns with a bright yellow light. It’s not very rare, and is mostly used in alloys with other metals.

22 – Ti – Titanium
This is a very hard metal. Things are titanium plated if they need to be strong. Mine is the white pigment in some paint.
23 – V – Vanadium
They mix Vanadium and Chromium with steel to make it stronger. I have a screwdriver that is made of this. I also have a sample of pure Vanadium (on a silicon wafer).
24 – Cr – Chromium
Lots of shiny things (like my nail clippers) are chromium plated. I also have a chain that is chromium plated.
25 – Mn – Manganese
My sample is manganese oxide in an alkaline battery. I also have a sample of pure manganese (on a silicon wafer).
26 – Fe – Iron
Iron is everywhere. It attracts magnets.
I have pure iron powder and a very old huge nail.
27 – Co – Cobalt
My sample is a pure sample
 (on a silicon wafer).  I also have blue paint coloured with Cobolt.
28 – Ni – Nickel
Nickel is used to plate things too.
My sample is from a rechargeable battery. I also  have a nickel plated chain.  And I have a pure sample (on a silicon wafer).
29 – Cu – Copper
Copper conducts electricity really well. My sample is copper wire. And I have a pure sample
 (on a silicon wafer).
30 – Zn – Zinc
Zinc can be used to plate things. My sample is solid zinc pellets.
31 – Ga – Gallium
Gallium is really fun! It’s a metal that melts if you hold it.
32 – Ge – Germanium
Used in LEDs.
33 – As – Arsenic
This is a poison, so I can’t have any. They used to use it as a dye in wallpaper!
34 – Se – Selenium
Used for light-sensing (like my light sensor) and in photocopiers
35 – Br – Bromine

This is sometimes used in hot tubs
36 – Kr – Krypton
Krypton is sometimes used in flashes for high speed photography. It is also used in fluorescent signs.
37 – Rb – Rubidium
38 – Sr – Strontium

Glow in the dark paints often contain strontium
39 – Y – Yttrium

40 – Zr – Zirconium
Zirconium is a metal, but can be made into zirconia, a substitute for diamonds. I have an earring made from zirconia and gold.
41 – Nb – Niobium
I have a pure sample (on a silicon wafer).
42 – Mo – Molybdenum
I have a spool of molybdenum wire
43 – Tc – Technetium
44 – Ru – Ruthenium
I have a pure sample
 (on a silicon wafer).
45 – Rh – Rhodium
46 – Pd – Palladium
I have a pure sample (on a silicon wafer).
47 – Ag – Silver
My sample is a silver ring, and I have a pure sample (on a silicon wafer).
48 – Cd – Cadmium
My Cadmium sample is red paint that uses Cd as its pigment

49 – In – Indium
50 – Sn – Tin
I have a tin made of tin!  Tin attracts magnets
51 – Sb – Antimony

52 – Te – Tellurium
53 – I – Iodine
This can be used as an antiseptic. It is purple!
54 – Xe – Xenon
A gas that acts as an anaesthetic
55 – Cs – Caesium
56 – Ba – Barium
57 – La – Lanthanum
58 – Ce – Cerium
My sample is a lighter flint
59 – Pr – Praseodymium

60 – Nd – Neodymium
Really powerfully magnetic.
61 – Pm – Promethium

62 – Sm – Samarium
63 – Eu – Europium
64 – Gd – Gadolinium
65 – Tb – Terbium
66 – Dy – Dysprosium
67 – Ho – Holmium
68 – Er – Erbium
69 – Tm – Thulium
70 – Yb – Ytterbium
71 – Lu – Lutetium
72 – Hf – Hafnium
73 – Ta – Tantalum
I have a pure sample (on a silicon wafer).
74 – W – Tungsten
My sample is the tiny filament from an old light bulb
75 – Re – Rhenium
76 – Os – Osmium

77 – Ir – Iridium
78 – Pt – Platinum
I have a pure sample (on a silicon wafer).
79 – Au – Gold
I have a gold ring, and also a pure sample (on a silicon wafer).
80 – Hg – Mercury
A metal that is liquid at room temperature. It’s fun, but poisonous….  Mine is an in old fashioned thermometer
81 – Tl – Thallium                    Another poisonous one.
82 – Pb – Lead
My sample is from the church roof.
They used to use it for water pipes but it’s toxic.
83 – Bi – Bismuth
Really beautiful.
It forms in big square crystals that go rainbow cloured.
84 – Po – Polonium

85 – At – Astatine
86 – Rn – Radon
Our house in the USA had a Radon pump, but I couldn’t keep any, as it can be dangerous.
87 – Fr – Francium
88 – Ra – Radium
89 – Ac – Actinium
90 – Th – Thorium
91 – Pa – Protactinium
92 – U – Uranium – I got this for my 8th birthday.  It’s amazing that you can buy uranium ore from Amazon! You can actually dig it up in places like Cornwall, too.  My bit is radioactive enough to test a geiger counter. 
93 – Np – Neptunium
94 – Pu – Plutonium
95 – Am – Americium
They discovered it while they were inventing nuclear bombs.
Now it’s in smoke detectors.
96 – Cm – Curium
97 – Bk – Berkelium
98 – Cf – Californium
99 – Es – Einsteinium

100 – Fm – Fermium
101 – Md – Mendelevium
102 – No – Nobelium
103 – Lr – Lawrencium
104 – Rf – Rutherfordium
105 – Db – Dubnium
106 – Sg – Seaborgium
107 – Bh – Bohrium
108 – Hs – Hassium
109 – Mt – Meitnerium
110 – Ds – Darmstadtium
111 – Rg – Roentgenium
112 – Cn – Copernicium
113 – Nh – Nihonium
114 – Fl – Flerovium
115 – Mc – Moscovium
116 – Lv – Livermorium
117 – Ts – Tennessine
118 – Og – Oganesson

I also have a little metal medallion from Lourdes, but I don’t know what it’s made of. It’s really light (so not lead), and bendy, and it doesn’t stick to a magnet (so it’s not tin or iron or Bismuth). What is it?????  Could it be nickle, or zinc?  How will I find out????




2 thoughts on “Elements

  1. Helium should be easy – you could buy it in a balloon.
    You could make your own hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysing water.
    The little red lights on some electrical switches and sockets have Neon in (I think).
    You used to be able to buy sulphur and iodine quite easily from an ordinary chemist’s shop, but they might not be so available these days.
    Old thermometers or barometers have mercury in them, though they can be hard to find now.

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