Can You Guess the Element from 3 Things It's Common In?

Bambi Turner

Blimps, balloons and scuba tanks:

What else could make balloons and blimps float in the air but a full dose of helium? This gas is also found in scuba tanks, where it's mixed with oxygen for a better diving experience. And no matter how funny it makes your voice sound, it's never safe to inhale helium gas for fun. It can be deadly.

Airplanes, soda cans and kitchen cookware:

Aluminum is a lightweight metal found in airplanes, soda cans and pots and pans. In addition to its light weight, this material is used in a wide variety of applications because it is both non-corrosive and highly malleable.

Coal, oil and gas:

Carbon is found in every single organic compound in the world. That includes you, your pets and the plants all around you. It's also found in coal, oil, gas, graphite and diamonds.

Jewelry, dentistry and electronics:

Gold has been one of the most valuable and highly desirable metals in the world for thousands of years. It's not only beautiful and malleable, but also prized for its golden color and the fact that it doesn't tarnish like silver.

Steel, cars and machinery:

Iron is a hard, magnetic metal used to make cars, buildings and heavy machinery. It's often mixed with others metals to form alloys, such as steel, chromium or stainless steel, which helps to improve its strength and reduce the risk of corrosion.

Fertilizers, nylon and explosives:

Nitrogen makes up around 80 percent of the Earth's atmosphere. It's also used to make nylon, explosives and fertilizers.

The air you breathe, Scuba tanks and inside a basketball:

You may have heard of oxygen. It's that stuff in the air that you breathe in to keep you alive. This gas happens to be the third most abundant element known to man, and is used in welding as well as in the production of rocket fuel.

Table salt, streetlights and baking soda:

Sodium combines with chlorine to form a compound known as NaCl -- you might know it as table salt. It's also used to give a yellow hue to certain types of street lights, and found in sodium bicarbonate -- also known as baking soda.

Gunpowder, pyrotechnics and insecticides:

Most sulfur is used to make sulfuric acid, which is used to make batteries, fertilizer and gunpowder. That rotten egg smell you associate with sulfur is only associated with hydrogen sulfide -- pure sulfur is actually odorless.

Fertilizers, soaps and cleaning products:

Potassium is a soft, highly reactive metallic element. It's found in soaps, cleaners and fertilizers, but is almost always used in the form of a compound. Combined with chloride, it makes a common fertilizer, while potassium hydroxide is found in many cleaning supplies.

Bleach, pool chemicals and table salt:

Chloride actually shows up quite a bit in several everyday objects. It makes up one half of NaCl, or common table salt. It's also used to make bleach and pool chemicals.

Pennies, wiring and electronics:

Copper is a metallic element known for being resistant to corrosion and an excellent conductor. It's used to make pennies, electrical wiring, motors and heating and cooling components. Because of its attractive hue, it's also used in decorative items, roofing and cookware.

Gas, space shuttle fuel and petroleum manufacturing:

Hydrogen is the most abundant of all known elements. Built from a single proton combined with a single electron, it's used to make ammonia and various fuels, including rocket fuel.

Thermometers, old dental fillings and pigments:

Mercury -- once referred to as quick silver because it forms a shiny liquid pool at room temperature -- is both beautiful and toxic. Named for the planet Mercury, it's used in thermometers, old dental fillings and to make a red pigment called vermilion.

Batteries, mood stabilizers and aluminum alloys:

Lithium is the lightest of all the known metals. It's used in batteries and metal alloys, and also serves as a surprisingly effective medicine for treating patients with bipolar disease and mood disorders.

Borax, eye drops and pyrotechnics:

Boron is used in borax -- a household chemical used to clean laundry, and in some homemade slime-making recipes. This element is used to add a green tinge to pyrotechnics, and is also found in ceramic glaze and certain types of eye drops.

Pewter, solder and semiconductors:

Tin is rarely used to make cans anymore, except as a coating over steel, but this soft metal is found in plenty of common products. It's used in solder for joining metal, and when mixed with copper, it forms pewter.

Chrome plating, stainless steel and metal alloys:

You know that shiny chrome plating on cars and motorcycles? Thank chromium for that. This compound is also used to make stainless steel and other alloys.

Pipes, tubing and water desalination plants:

Nickel is a relatively hard metal that happens to be magnetic, like iron. It's primarily added to other metal products to improve corrosion-resistance. Many pipes, tubes and desalination equipment are combined with or coated with nickel.

Steel, light bulb filaments and metal alloys:

Tungsten has the highest melting point of any metal. That makes it a solid choice for steel, light bulb filaments and other applications where heat exposure could pose a challenge for other materials.

Toothpaste, drinking water and etching compounds:

In its natural state, fluorine is a poisonous gas, but when combined with other elements, it's found in many everyday items. Not only is it added to toothpaste and drinking water, but it's also used in manufacturing to dissolve or etch materials.

Advertising signs, lasers and high voltage indicators:

The glow of a neon sign has long been a bright beacon on a dark night, helping us find bars and businesses in low light. This natural element is not only used in advertising signs, like that "Open" on your local convenience store, but also in lasers and certain types of indicator lights.

Epsom salts, medicine and Magnesium Hydroxide:

Magnesium is one of the lightest metals on the periodic table. It's used to make Epsom salts, medicine and Magnesium Hydroxide.

Semiconductors, computers and electronics:

Silicon is such a useful element that the heart of the entire tech industry is named after it in the form of Silicon Valley. This hard metal element is used to make semiconductors, computers and other electronics.

Fertilizers, explosives and pyrotechnics:

In its purest state, phosphorous is a solid white wax that glows. It's used to make explosives, fertilizes and pyrotechnics.

Light bulbs, welding and semiconductors:

Argon is a non-metallic gas at room temperature. It serves as the filling inside many traditional light bulbs, and is also used in both welding and semiconductor manufacturing.

Aerospace, engines and bicycles:

Titanium has impressive strength compared to its weight, and can also tolerate extreme temperatures better than many other metals. Because of this, it's popular for building engines and space shuttles that may be subject to intense heat.

Batteries, glass and a large portion of the Earth's crust:

A substantial portion of the Earth's crust is made from a hard metal element called manganese. It's also used to make batteries, as well as to counteract the effects of iron in glassmaking. Without the addition of manganese, iron would give glass a greenish tinge.

Chemotherapy, jet engines and stainless steel:

Cobalt is a hard, magnetic metal. One of its isotopes is a critical form of therapy for treating cancer. This solid is also used in electroplating, jet engines, and as a coloring agent for making glass and pottery.

Jewelry, spoons and batteries:

Move over copper -- silver is actually one of the best conductors of all the metallic elements. This soft, shiny metal is also a great reflector of light, making it a popular choice for jewelry and high-end tableware.

Brass, cosmetics and batteries:

Got brass door knobs or candlesticks? Then you've got yourself some zinc. When combined with copper, zinc forms the golden metal known as brass. This element is also used to make paint, rubber, cosmetics and batteries.

Insecticides, poison and transistors:

At one point in history, arsenic was such a popular poison that it was known as "the inheritance powder." Today, this fragile metal is used to make insecticides and transistors.

Solar panels, photovoltaic cells and glass:

Selenium is an element that is gray and brittle in its solid, natural state. Combined with other elements, selenium plays an important role in the manufacture of solar panels and photovoltaic cells.

Jewelry, plumbing supplies and nuclear reactors:

Zirconium is a rare element in that it is not only non-corrosive, but also neutron-resistant. This means it is used in mechanical elements, like pumps and valves, but also in nuclear reactors because it does not absorb the neutrons.

Electrical contacts, spark plugs and furnaces:

Rhodium is a metal that is corrosion-resistant and surprisingly shiny. It's used to make spark plugs, catalytic converters and other electrical elements.

Batteries, nuclear reactors and electronics:

Cadmium is a toxic, posionous metal -- similar to lead. It is used in nickel-cadmium batteries, and is also a crucial part of nuclear technology.

Antiseptics, medicine and film:

In its natural state, iodine is a purplish-black solid. It has long been used in medicine, particularly as an antiseptic. A radioactive isotope of this element is also used to treat thyroid conditions.

Pyrotechnics, X-rays and vacuum tubes:

Barium is a soft metal with one very important claim to fame: Its ability to absorb X-rays. It's also used to lend a green flow during pyrotechnics displays, and can be used to remove gases from vacuum tubes in the lab.

Batteries, weights and wire coating:

Lead is a soft, non-corrosive metal that is also highly toxic -- and no, it's no longer used in pencils -- that's graphite. This element is used to create weights, batteries and for coating various types of wires.

Fire detectors, fire extinguishers and electric fuses:

Bismuth is a very brittle metallic element. It has an unusually low melting point, which makes it a popular choice for fuses, fire detection systems and fire extinguishers.

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About This Quiz

Do you know what element mood stabilizers, batteries and metal alloys share? Can you guess what shared element is found in salt, street lights, and baking soda? If so, take our quiz to see how many of these chemical elements you can identify.

As of 2018, scientists have proven the existence of 118 elements. Just 92 of these occur in nature, while the rest have been generated synthetically in laboratories. Together, this tiny number of chemical elements combine to form every single thing on the planet -- and beyond. Just 118 elements form the building blocks of every person, animal and object -- as well as the air you breathe, the dirt beneath your feet and the very composition of the Earth itself. 

These 118 elements range from simple ones that you've probably heard of -- like oxygen, hydrogen, calcium, and iron -- to more complex ones that you may not be as familiar with -- like boron, manganese, and selenium.

If we give you a list of three objects, can you guess which element is common to all three? Take our quiz to prove your mastery of the elements and the periodic table!

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