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Mouth organ
MFA Acc. #: 1996.115


A silvery-white, magnetic metallic element. Nickel occurs naturally in many ores such as nicolite, pyrrhotite, pentlandite, and garnierite as well as in metallic meteorites. Its abundance in the earth's crust is 99 ppm and large reserves are located in Ontario, Norway, Finland, Cuba, China, and Australia. Nickel was first isolated by Axel F. Cronstedt in 1751. Metallic nickel is a hard, malleable metal that can take a high polish and remain untarnished. It is most often used as a protective and ornamental electroplated coatings on other metals, such as iron and steel. Nickel is also used to produce Monel®, a highly corrosion resistant nickel-copper alloy, as well as many other alloys. In Europe, nickel is prohibited in jewelry, watches, and zippers because of its carcinogenic potential via skin absorption.

Nickel ore (pentlandite)

Synonyms and Related Terms

Ni; Nikkel (Ned.); nichel (It.); Níquel (Port.); niquel (Esp.); nicolite; pyrrhotite; pentlandite; garnierite


  • Flammable and toxic as dust and fumes.
  • Oxyacetylene welding may form the highly toxic nickel carbonyl gas.
  • Metallic nickel is a carcinogen and can cause skin allergies.
  • ThermoFisher: SDS

Physical And Chemical Properties

Slightly soluble in dilute hydrochloric and sulfuric acids. Soluble in nitric acid. Resistant to alkalis.

Composition Ni (atomic no. 28)
CAS 7440-02-0
Mohs Hardness 3.8
Melting Point 1453 C
Density 8.908 g/ml
Molecular Weight atomic wt = 58.6934
Boiling Point 2732 C

Resources and Citations

  • O. Untracht, Metal Techniques for Craftsmen, Doubleday and Co., Garden City, NY, 1968.
  • F. B. Howard-White, Nickel: An Historical Review New York: D. Van Nostrand Company, 1963.
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976 Comment: date first isolated = 1751
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 6582; date first isolated = 1754
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 527; date first isolated = 1751
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
  • Tom Rowland, Noel Riley, A-Z Guide to Cleaning, Conserving and Repairing Antiques, Constable and Co., Ltd., London, 1981
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979
  • Arian Sheets, Contributed information.

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