Base metals are basically any common metal that is not a noble metal nor precious metal. Still confused? Not to worry; continue reading to learn what all of these terms mean, as well as, some examples of each.
As mentioned, a base metal is any common metal that cannot be categorized as noble or precious. Silver may be an exception to this rule, as it is sometimes used as a base metal for gold and platinum coatings. Furthermore, they are generally the most readily available and inexpensive metals. Base metals are also more prone to corrosion, oxidation, and tarnishing. Examples of base metals include lead, copper, tin, aluminum, and zinc. Brass and bronze are alloys of these metals, making them base metals as well.
Another interesting fact about the properties of base metals is that they produce hydrogen gas when diluted with hydrochloric acid. This practice is primarily used for galvanizing applications.
Base metals have a second definition as being the primary metallic element in an alloy. For instance, the base metal of bronze is copper. Similarly, the term base metal can take on the definition as the metal core underlying a coating. For example, steel may be the base metal of galvanized steel. And as mentioned, silver is sometimes coated in gold or rhodium, making it the base metal of those commodities.
Precious and Noble Metals
Precious metals are rare, naturally-occurring elemental metals with high economic value. Throughout history, they were used as currency. Even today, there are still sold and traded as investments, as well as, among private buyers and sellers. Examples include gold, silver, platinum, tungsten, zirconium, cobalt, palladium, rhodium, osmium, and iridium.
Noble metals are a grouping of metals that resist oxidation and corrosion in moist or humid air. Common examples in order of increasing atomic number include ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, silver, osmium, iridium, platinum, and gold. However, there are multiple “list” for noble metals, as some contain mercury while other may include rhenium. Some lists include gold, silver and copper, but leave out all others.
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