Cobalt Facts – 75 Fascinating Facts for Your Homework

by Sankalan Baidya
cobalt facts

Before we speak of the Cobalt facts, did you know Cobalt is a very weird element? The element is used in treating cancer but it is carcinogenic. It is extremely essential for our health but even a little extra amount of Cobalt can be lethal to us.

Cobalt is an element that has extreme applications and characteristics. Unfortunately, there is not much of an interest among common folks for this amazing yet dangerous element.

So, here we are trying to do our bit to throw some light on Cobalt through this article interesting facts about Cobalt. Enjoy!

Quick Data on Cobalt

1. Cobalt occupies 27th position in the periodic table. Its atomic number is 27.

2. Its symbol is Co. Please do not confuse it with CO (both capital letters). Note the CO stands for Carbon Monoxide.

3. It has an atomic mass of 58.9332 g/mol.

4. It belongs to period 4 and group 9.

electronic shell of cobalt

5. It has an electronic configuration of [Ar] 3d74s2 or 1s22s22p63s23p63d74s2.

6. Its atomic radius is 125 pm.

7. Its crystal structure is ‘hexagonal close-packed.’

8. It is a ferromagnetic element (these elements exhibit spontaneous magnetization).

9. It has a Mohs hardness value of 5.0.

10. Melting point of Cobalt is 1768K/ 1495oC/ 2723oF.

11. The boiling point of Cobalt is 3200K/2927oC/5301oF.

12. It has a density of 8.90 g/cm3.

13. Its natural occurrence is primordial (primordial molecules are the molecules that are present in the current form even before the earth was formed).

Isotopes of Cobalt

Now that we have some quick data on Cobalt, let us learn about the isotopes of Cobalt and then we can start with the list of Cobalt facts. Sounds good? Let us start!

Name of isotope Type and Abundance Half-Life (HL)
47Co Radioactive Not available
48Co Radioactive Not available
49Co Radioactive <35 nanoseconds
50Co Radioactive 44 milliseconds
51Co Radioactive 60 milliseconds
52Co Radioactive 115 milliseconds
53Co Radioactive 242 milliseconds
54Co Radioactive 193.28 milliseconds
55Co Radioactive 17.53 hours
56Co Radioactive 77.233 days
57Co Radioactive 271.74 days
58Co Radioactive 70.896 days
59Co Stable No half-life
60Co Radioactive 5.27 years
61Co Radioactive 1.65 hours
62Co Radioactive 1.5 minutes
63Co Radioactive 26.9 seconds
64Co Radioactive 0.30 seconds
65Co Radioactive 1.20 seconds
66Co Radioactive 0.18 seconds
67Co Radioactive 0.425 seconds
68Co Radioactive 0.199 seconds
69Co Radioactive 227 milliseconds
70Co Radioactive 119 milliseconds
71Co Radioactive 97 milliseconds
72Co Radioactive 62 milliseconds
73Co Radioactive 41 milliseconds
74Co Radioactive 50 milliseconds
75Co Radioactive 40 milliseconds

Cobalt Facts: Discovery of Cobalt

While talking of Cobalt facts, how can we not speak about its discovery? We do that for every element we write about. So, here are some interesting facts on Cobalt discovery:

Fact 1: Since ancient times, Cobalt has been used by Egyptians (found in Egyptian sculptures) and Persians (found in Persian jewelry) (both at around 3 BCE).

Fact 2: It has been found in the ruins of Pompei which was destroyed in 79 CE and it has been used by Chinese from the Tang dynasty and Ming dynasty.

Fact 3: Tomb of Tutankhamun contained a glass object which was colored deep blue with Cobalt.

Fact 4: The oldest source of Cobalt colored glass is from the 18th Dynasty of Egypt around 1550 to 1292 BCE. The source of Cobalt is not yet known. 

Fact 5: The word Cobalt is derived from German word Kobalt derived from Kobold (or Kobald) meaning “goblin” – a term used by miners for Cobalt ore. They referred to toxic vapors that were released during smelting.  

Fact 6: Earlier people believed that the colors produced by Cobalt were produced by elements like Bismuth, Copper, Arsenic, and Iron.

Fact 7: The ores were smelted and the first results yielded Cobalt powder.

Fact 8: Georg Brandt, a Swedish chemist, was the one to first isolate Cobalt in 1735. He called Cobalt a “semi-metal”. He is usually credited as the discoverer of Cobalt.

Fact 9: He showed that the blue color of the glass is the result of compounds of Cobalt and not because of Bismuth.

Fact 10: Did you know that Cobalt is the first metal to be discovered since pre-historical period?

Fact 11: Did you know that there are no recorded discoverers for the metals Bismuth, Lead, Tin, Mercury, Zinc, Gold, Silver, Copper, and Iron?

Fact 12: In the 20th century, many ore deposits were found all over Europe, Congo, and Canada.

Fact 13: The color of Cobalt may be really attractive but the pigment is highly toxic. Some of the industries were successful in going for Cobalt-free alternatives.

Fact 14: After WWII, Americans wanted the supply of Cobalt ore for military purposes (just like the Germans).

Fact 15: The supply of ore was found in Blackbird canyon near Idaho to fulfill the requirements of the US.

Cobalt Facts: Properties of Cobalt

Now that we have learned about the discovery, we will continue with our list of facts about Cobalt and learn about the properties of Cobalt.

Fact 16: As mentioned above, Cobalt is a ferromagnetic element. In normal conditions, it remains in a solid state.

Fact 17: It is bluish-white. It is a lustrous, brittle and a hard metal.

Fact 18: It is a weak reducing agent and remains protected by creating an oxide film over the metal.

Fact 19: It reacts readily with halogens but doesn’t react with Hydrogen and Nitrogen even when heated.

Fact 20: Its usual oxidation states are +2 and +3. However, compounds with varied oxidation states like -3 to +5 are also present.

Fact 21: Compounds with oxidation state +2 have pink color.

Fact 22: Many chalcogen and halide compounds are formed because of halides and Cobalt’s reactivity with halogens and Oxygen.

Facts on Cobalt: Applications of Cobalt

Fact 23: In 2016 alone, 160,000 tons of Cobalt was used.

Fact 24: Cobalt is used in many ways like Cobalt is used in making rechargeable batteries, making alloys, etc.

Fact 25: Cobalt is one of the major compounds in the making of superalloys. These superalloys have amazing temperature stability and hence are used for jet engines and turbine blades.

Fact 26: Cobalt-based superalloys are resistant to corrosion and wear and tear.

Fact 27: However, Nickel-based superalloys are better than Cobalt-based superalloys. Chromium and Tungsten carbide alloys are extremely tough and wear-resistant.

Fact 28: Vitallium which is Chromium-Cobalt-Molybdenum alloy is used for making prosthetics which not only include hip and knee replacements but also dental prosthetics. 

Fact 29: Cobalt is better than Nickel in making prosthetics.    

Fact 30: Cobalt is also used in making permanent magnets.

Fact 31: As we mentioned earlier, Persians used Cobalt for jewelry. Cobalt is alloyed with 95% platinum for jewelry even today. The jewelry is slightly magnetic.

Fact 32: Lithium is used in making batteries. Lithium-Cobalt oxide is a popular choice for the cathode in Lithium-ion batteries.

Fact 33: Electric cars also use rechargeable batteries. These rechargeable batteries use Cobalt.

Fact 34: Because of the production of electric cars, the demand for Cobalt has increased many folds.

Fact 35: Cobalt is also used as a catalyst in many of the chemical reactions like hydrogenation of CO (Carbon Monoxide) into liquid fuel.

Fact 36: Cobalt is used as a ‘drying agent’ in paints, inks, varnishes, etc.

Fact 37: It is known by now that Cobalt has been used as a pigment since ages. It is used for making blue-colored glass.

Fact 38: Sven Rinman discovered Cobalt Green in 1780 and Louis Jacques Thénard discovered Cobalt Blue in 1802.

Fact 39: Because of their high chromatic stability, many variants of colors of Cobalt like Cobalt Blue, Cobalt Green, Cobalt Violet, Aureolin (Cobalt Yellow), Cerulean Blue, etc. are preferred by artists over other pigments. 

Fact 40: Glenn T. Seaborg discovered Cobalt-60, a radioactive isotope. It is used as a source of gamma rays.

Fact 41: Cobalt-60 is used for sterilization of medical waste and medical supplies, cold pasteurization, measuring density, external beam radiotherapy, industrial radiography, etc.

Fact 42: However, Cobalt produces fine dust which becomes hazardous if not discarded properly.

Fact 43: One of the most unfortunate radiation contamination accidents took place in Mexico, North America in 1984. The incident involved accidental disassembling of Cobalt-60 containing radiotherapy unit in a junkyard in Mexico’s Juarez.

Fact 44: Cobalt is used in electroplating as well thanks to its hardness, its resistance towards oxidation and its attractive appearance.

Fact 45: Cobalt is also used as a base primer coat for enamels.

Fact 46: Cobalt is used to make the skin of the robots (microbots) called “MagnetoSperm”. The MagnetoSperms were developed in 2014. The robots wiggle like a sperm when they respond to a magnetic field.

Cobalt Element Facts: Abundance and Availability of Cobalt

Fact 47: The stable isotope of Cobalt is produced through r-process in supernovae.

Fact 48: Earth’s crust consists 0.0029% i.e. 25 ppm (parts per million) of Cobalt. Because of Oxygen (in the air) and Chlorine (in water), free Cobalt is not present on Earth.

Fact 49: Cobalt is found in meteoric Iron. Otherwise, free Cobalt is not found anywhere on Earth.

Fact 50: Cobalt is present with Nickel and Copper compounds. Cobalt is also present in tobacco smoke.

Fact 51: The tobacco plant absorbs heavy metals like Cobalt in its leaves. They are eventually inhaled when smoking.

Fact 52: It has an abundance of 2*10-5 mg/L in seawater. 

Fact 53: Its abundance is 4 ppm (parts per million) in the solar system.

Fact 54: In soil, its abundance is 8 ppm. This may vary depending upon the soil. 

Fact 55: The main ores through which Cobalt is extracted are Erythrite, Cobaltite, Skutterudite, Glaucodot, etc.

Fact 56: However, the major source of Cobalt extraction is Copper smelting, Copper mining, reducing Cobalt by-products of Nickel.

Fact 57: The only mine to have Cobalt as a primary product in the whole world is Morocco.

Fact 58: As Cobalt is produced mostly as a by-product of Nickel and Copper, its production is dependent on the production of Nickel and Copper.

Fact 59: Geological Survey of the United States estimates that the world contains 7,100,000 metric tons of Cobalt.

Fact 59: DRC or the Democratic Republic of the Congo produces 63% of Cobalt in the world.

Fact 60: Other top Cobalt producing countries in the world are Russia, Australia, Canada, Cuba, Philippines, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, Zambia (the countries are in chronological order in terms of amount produced after Congo).

Fact 61: On average the world produces 17,000 tons of Cobalt a year.

Cobalt Interesting Facts: Biological Role

Fact 62: Cobalt is a micronutrient that is essential for all animals. It is a constituent of vitamin B12 also called cobalamin.

Fact 63: The bacteria present in the ruminants convert the element to cobalamin.

Fact 64: It is not only present in vitamin B12 but it also helps in the production of red blood corpuscles.

Fact 65: The total intake of Cobalt in a day must not exceed 1 mg.

Fact 66: It causes various diseases in animals like Cobalt disease, coast disease, etc. if there is a deficiency of Cobalt.

Fact 67: As per the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the US, the permissible exposure limit of Cobalt in the workplace is 0.1 mg/m3.

Fact 68: If the value of Cobalt reaches 20 mg/m3, it gets extremely dangerous to life.

Fact 69: It must be noted that even if a person ingests lesser amounts of Cobalt than the lethal dose, the person may face serious health conditions like thyroid damage, vision and heart problems, vomiting and nausea.

Fact 70: In 1996, Cobalt compounds were added to stabilize the foam of beer. This led to cardiomyopathy in drinkers which was eventually called the beer drinker’s cardiomyopathy. This happened in Canada.

Fact 71: According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, Cobalt may be carcinogenic in higher doses.

Fact 72: When touched, it causes skin problems and when inhaled, it causes respiratory issues like asthma, pneumonia, cough, dyspnea, and even death.

Fact 73: Radiations from radioactive Cobalt can cause hair loss, bleeding, coma, sterility, and even death. 

Fact 74: Did you know that Cobalt is a major cause of contact dermatitis?

Price of Cobalt

Fact 75: Pure Cobalt costs 21 USD for 100 grams and Cobalt in bulk costs 4.40 USD per 100 grams.

That concludes our list of Cobalt facts. In case you think we have missed anything, do let us know through the comments sections. Also, don’t forget to share your reactions on this article. Finally, sharing is caring and so, share the article.




Royal Society of Chemistry


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