The first 20 elements in the periodic table make up over 99% of our body mass! In the table below their arranged in increasing order of atomic number. Read on for more fun facts about the first 20 elements!
These elements are all around you, in places that you might not even think of! Here’s a list of each element and their presence in our world!
- Lithium – Lithium is one of the lightest metals on the periodic table. Its most common use is in lithium-ion batteries. Lithium also has medicinal uses. For example, it’s also used in medicines to treat diagnoses such as bipolar disorder.
- Beryllium – Beryllium has a high melting point and an amazing ability to dissipate heat. These properties are why it’s commonly used in structuring high speed craft such as fighter jets. If you have ever had an X-ray, you’ve also been in proximity to Beryllium. It’s used as a foil to help the X-ray pass through and take an internal image of you!
- Sodium – The production of paper uses sodium hydroxide to separate fibers. Next time your driving or riding along the interstate, look for the yellow-ish streetlamps that illuminate your path. These lamps used a compound of sodium.
- Magnesium – Magnesium is light weight metal. This property allows it to be used in the production of laptops and car seats. You may be even looking at this through a device with magnesium in it!
- Aluminum – Aluminum has various uses in today’s world. The most common is aluminum foil, but it’s also used to coat cooking ware, in mirrors, and in to create aircraft engines.
- Potassium – If you ever eaten a banana, you’ve also eaten potassium! But don’t worry, potassium is necessary for functions of the body such as muscle contractions and your heartbeat.
- Calcium – Calcium is a main component of your bones. Calcium is also a main component of the cell walls of plants, their version of bones.
- Hydrogen – Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe. Fuel cells that generate electricity for your house use hydrogen as well as transport vehicle fuel.
- Helium – Helium is the only element that is still a gas at temperatures that match liquid nitrogen (-320°F). Thus, rocket ships use helium to pressurize fuel tanks.
- Boron – If you have ever had a stomachache and had to take Pepto Bismol, you’ve ingested boron! Silly Putty also contains boron.
- Carbon – Carbon is responsible for one of the softest materials on the planet and the hardest. Graphite (which is what most pencil lead is made of) is made from carbon and so are diamonds!
- Nitrogen – Nitrogen is a main component of most fertilizers for food production. If you have ever had to be put to sleep for surgery, there’s a good chance the anesthesia you were given was nitrous oxide, or laughing gas.
- Oxygen – Most of your body weight is oxygen! Nearly 2/3 of our mass is thanks to oxygen. Every aerobic organism needs oxygen to survive; this is everything from fungi to animals, to plants.
- Fluorine – If you have ever used a teeth-whitening toothpaste, you’ve used fluoride! Fluorine is the most electronegative element, meaning when it forms a bond, it has a strong pull on the shared electrons.
- Neon – Neon is an unreactive element so it doesn’t have a lot of practical uses. The most common use is neon signs that are reddish orange!
- Silicon – Silicon has the tendency to create gel-like substances. This property allows for silicon to be common in various cosmetic, gel, and hair products. It’s also a sealant for things such as drafty windows or broken pipes.
- Phosphorus – Various explosives contain phosphorus. However, fertilizers are the main use of phosphorus. However, when phosphorus fertilizer reaches bodies of water from run-off it decreases the oxygen level. Scientists are now searching for ways to combat this effect as it is harmful for aquatic ecosystems.
- Sulfur – Sulfur is extremely important for the upkeep of your body! It’s essential in the creation of DNA as well as the protection of your cells from diseases and illnesses such as cancer. It’s also used in various products such as gun powder, matches, paper and fireworks!
- Chlorine – Household cleaning supplies such as bleach contain chlorine. Chlorine is also a major component of stomach acid, the stuff that helps you digest your food!
- Argon – Black lights often use argon. Argon acts as a preservative in many foods. There’s a good chance that the food on your shelves were once in contact with argon.
Something to Help You Remember the First 20 Elements
All of these symbols may look like a lot and feel impossible to memorize. However, fret not! Here are some mnemonics to help you remember! The letters of the elements are in bold 🙂
Hi! He Likes Berries Because Cats Never Opt For Neither. Nancy Mg. Allen’s Silly Putty Sticks Closely Around Kermit’s Cabbage.
Happy Hedgehogs Live Beautifully Bouncing. Cats Napping On Friday Neighbors. Nappy Magnificent Alligators Silently Play Softly Clapping Around Kitchen’s Cautiously.
Here are some links to other articles that talk about similar things or groups of elements on the periodic table!
- Periodic Table Metals and Non-Metals
- Actinides on the Periodic Table
- Noble Gases – Periodic Table
- Alkali Metals – Periodic Table
- Transition Metals – Periodic Table
- Main Group Elements
- Periodic Trends Made Easy
For more information on the rest of the periodic table, feel free to check out our INTERACTIVE PERIODIC TABLE!