This is a tale of metals and minerals. In the workaday world, we use those two terms so freely that it’s easy to forget not only their scientific definition, but also how they affect our health. We don’t mean to trigger memories of high school chem or biology, when you had to dissect a baby pig that was splayed on an operating board and reeking of formaldehyde. So this tale will be a quick review of metals and minerals — what they are, and how your body could be absorbing their chemical composition. And now for our tale ...
1. MetalsRemember the Periodic Table of Elements? That thing seemed about as comprehensible as hieroglyphics back when we were in school, but it turns out that it served a purpose. Scientists have identified 118 elements, chemical substances that cannot be broken down any further. If you look at the Table, the elements in it can be separated into three broad categories:
2. MineralsIf elements are the simplest chemical substances, and metals are specific elements, minerals are basically chemical compounds. Mineralogy is complex, so here are a few more points that make up a broader definition of minerals:
- Stable at room temp.
- Formed by an inorganic natural process. (That is, it came about without the secretions or metabolites of plants or animals.)
- Represented with a chemical formula. (Some of these are quite complicated. Just look at Aurichalcite, which is Zinc + Copper. The chemical formula? (Zn,Cu)5(CO3)2(OH)6. Talc is MgSi4O10(OH)2. See? Complicated.)