Aluminum was discovered in 1827. It is a soft, light, silvery-coloured metal. Its surface has a strongly adhering layer of oxide which protects the metal from corrosion. Aluminum is the third most abundant element in the earth's crust after oxygen and silicon.

Aluminum occurs in the mineral bauxite (a mixture of the oxides of aluminum, iron and silicon). Bauxite occurs in large quantities in tropical and sub-tropical countries. The Aluminum Company of Canada (ALCAN) obtains most of its supply of raw material from Jamaica in the form of alumina (Al2O3).

One of the metal's most valuable properties is its corrosion resistance. This, together with its light weight, makes it an ideal construction material for the building and the automotive industries. An electrolytic process called anodizing can increase the corrosion resistance of the metal. The electrical conductivity is about two-thirds of copper, making it economical for power transmission. Other uses of aluminum include its use:

Common aluminum compounds are:

BCIT Chemistry Resource Center