Tungsten, or also known as Wolfram, is a chemical element in the Periodic Table marked with the atomic number of 74 and with the chemical symbol W. This chemical element belongs to period 6 elements and the Transition Metals category. Similar to the rest of the Transition Metal elements Tungsten possesses various metallic properties. In the Periodic Table Tungsten is preceded by Tantalum and is followed by Rhenium.


Tungsten is an extremely hard metal, which occurs naturally on Earth, although in rare quantities. It is mostly found in wolframite and scheelite. This is among the densest elements and it also has the highest melting point of all chemical elements in the Periodic Table. Tungsten is present in biomolecules and plays an essential role for many bacteria and archaeon prokaryotes. However, it can also be toxic to living organisms. Tungsten has a vast variety of commercial applications, mainly in metallurgy, medicine, lighting installations, tool manufacturing, electronics, and is also used as a Gold substitute for hypoallergenic jewelry pieces. Even though it has many applications, Tungsten is quite rare, and the largest producers are China, Russia and Canada.



Physical Characteristics of Tungsten

In terms of physical characteristics Tungsten is a typical Transition Metal, regardless of the fact that it is extremely hard. This somewhat brittle element has a steel-gray metallic luster and is malleable only in its purest form. Its hardness exceeds that of most steels. Tungsten has a noteworthy high density – 19.25 g/cm3 at room temperature. In comparison with other metallic elements, Tungsten has the lowest vapor pressure. It crystalizes in a body-centered cubic crystal structure and has a paramagnetic magnetic ordering. This is the metal with the highest melting points of all with a melting point of 3695 K and a boiling point of 6203 K.


Chemical Properties of Tungsten


Atomic Number – 74

Group – 6

Period – 6

Block – d

Electronic Configuration – 4f14 5d4 6s2

Relative Atomic Mass – 183.84 (183.84 g/mol)

Molecular Weight – 183.84

Electronegativity – 2.36

Density (G CM-3) – 19.25 g/cm3 at room temperature; 17.6 g/cm3 in liquid state

Melting Point – 3695 K; 3422 °C; 6192 °F

Boiling Point – 6203 K; 5930 °C; 10,706 °F

Atomic Radius – 139 pm

Isotopes – 5

Electronic Shell – 2, 8, 18, 32, 12, 2


Discovery of Tungsten

Back in 1781 a Swedish Pomeranian chemist, named Carl Wilhelm Scheele, discovered tungstic acid in a sample of a scheelite mineral. Two years later, in 1783, the brothers Jose and Fausto Elhuyar found the same acid in a sample of wolframite. That same year they managed to isolate the metal Tungsten by reducing the acid with the help of charcoal. Another Swedish chemist and mineralogist, named Torbern Bergman, is credited with the naming of the newly found element – after “tung sten”, which means “heavy stone” in Swedish.


Recognized by: Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1781)

Known and discovered by: Carl Wilhelm Scheele (1781)

Named by: Torbern Bergman (1781)


Uses and role of Tungsten

Even though it is a highly rare chemical element Tungsten has a large variety of uses and applications. It plays an important role for many types of bacterium, although it is considered toxic to most animals. In terms of commercial applications Tungsten is mostly used in the manufacturing of various alloys, electronics, lighting installations, and hard tools.


Other uses of Tungsten include manufacturing of missiles, kinetic energy penetrators, cannon shells, grenades, explosives, lubricants for catalysts, ceramic glazes, fluorescent lamps, and tanning pigments. This Transition Metal is also used in nuclear medicine and nuclear physics, darts, fishing lures, and dolly for riveting. Tungsten is also valued as a gold substitute for jewelry pieces.


Tungsten on Earth

Tungsten is an extremely rare chemical element regardless of the fact that it has various commercial and scientific applications. It is among the rarest elements on Earth and it exists in a natural form, but never as a free element. It can be found mostly in minerals like wolframite and scheelite. Nowadays the leading producers of Tungsten are China, Russia, and Canada.



Recent discoveries show that Tungsten could potentially be used as a biological copper metabolic antagonist in terms of playing a potential role similar to that of Molybdenum. As such, there’s a possibility it could be used in the manufacturing of chelation chemicals.