Base metal

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A base metal is a common and inexpensive metal, as opposed to a precious metal such as gold or silver.[1] A long-time goal of alchemists was the transmutation of a base (low grade) metal into a precious metal. In numismatics, coins often derived their value from the precious metal content; however base metals have been also used in coins in the past and today.

Specific definitions[edit]

A base metal may be distinguished by oxidizing or corroding relatively easily and reacting variably with diluted hydrochloric acid (HCl) to form hydrogen. Examples include iron, nickel, lead and zinc. Copper is also considered a base metal because it oxidizes relatively easily, although it does not react with HCl.

In mining and economics, the term base metals refers to industrial non-ferrous metals excluding precious metals. These include copper, lead, nickel and zinc.[2]

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection is more inclusive in its definition. It includes, in addition to the four above, iron and steel, aluminium, tin, tungsten, molybdenum, tantalum, cobalt, bismuth, cadmium, titanium, zirconium, antimony, manganese, beryllium, chromium, germanium, vanadium, gallium, hafnium, indium, niobium, rhenium and thallium.[3]

Zamak is an alloy used in casting (metalworking) which is sometimes called 'base metal' or deprecated as 'muckite'.[citation needed]

Other uses[edit]

In the context of plated metal products, the base metal underlies the plating metal, as copper underlies silver in Sheffield plate.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]