Metals tend to have a higher melting point than many other materials, and they’re able to change forms when exposed to heat — unlike wood, which simply decomposes. When temperatures become high enough, the ions that make up metal vibrate more and more, eventually breaking the bonds its ions have and allowing them to move free.
When the internal structure of a metal starts to shift and bonds are loosened, it becomes a fluid. The strength of the bond — which is based on the material itself — is typically what determines the melting point of a metal. Some metal alloys will have higher or lower melting points than the individual metals themselves, and they may not always melt smoothly.
Your Guide to Melting Metals
Typically, when someone asks about metal melting points, they’re looking for a solid temperature the metal needs to be heated to that results in liquefaction. Below is an interactive table that relies on a variety of scientific sources for melting points of different metals:
|Metal||Melting Point (°F)|
|Aluminum Bronze||1881 - 1900|
|Gold (24K Pure)||1945|
|Inconel Alloy||2540 - 2600|
|Iron (Gray Cast)||2060|
|Magnesium Alloy||660 - 1200|
Many metal alloys are present in our temperature list, but it’s important to know that most of these have a significant temperature range they’re required to reach. As the composition changes, the heat point changes, and ranges expand by roughly 200°F.
The range of an alloy means that it will start to have liquid and solid states, sometimes at the same time, as you start to approach the overall melting range.
Melting All at Once
When working with pure metals, you’ll likely notice that it melts almost uniformly. This is a contrast to other elements like ice, which gradually melts, and liquid is visible while chunks of solids are still around.
Thermal conductivity is one of the chief reasons for this uniform melting because metals are exceptional at heat transfer. Compared to ice, metal’s conductivity rate is orders of magnitude higher. This means applying heat to one part of a metal rod or bar will see the heat distribute very evenly throughout.
The denser the metal — usually — the better its thermal conductivity. This allows metalworking to apply heat safely in a single place but still properly heat an entire piece of metal.