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Calliopenjo
09-27-2008, 12:38 AM
Hi there,

Is there a way to tell the difference between tin, lead, iron, and silver? By sound, texture, appearance? Or a simple household mixture of ingredients to find out which is which?

:snoopy:

RainyDayNinja
09-27-2008, 12:46 AM
Well, there's always atomic absorption spectroscopy, but it sounds like you want something a little less expensive. Silver is easy, because in its pure state, it more white than actually 'silver' colored. As for the rest, you could always measure density and compare that to known values (e.g. from Wikipedia). You could also try scratching them with each other; iron is the hardest (4.0 on the Mohs scale), followed by silver (2.5), and tin and lead (both 1.5). You could then stick the tin and lead in the oven at 500 F, and see which melts (it'll be the tin).

TheIT
09-27-2008, 12:53 AM
Magnetism, too. Iron will be attracted to a magnet.

What resources does the person making the test have at hand? What time period?

waylander
09-27-2008, 12:53 AM
Is it attracted to a magnet?
How does it react to acid?

JoNightshade
09-27-2008, 01:06 AM
Hi there,

Is there a way to tell the difference between tin, lead, iron, and silver? By sound, texture, appearance? Or a simple household mixture of ingredients to find out which is which?

:snoopy:

Well, if we're just talking undisguised elements... like say cups of various metals... it's pretty easy. Tin is very light. Lead is extremely heavy and usually darker than the other metals. It's also softer, so if you took a hammer to it you could probably dent it. Iron is... well, iron-colored. Silver, as someone else pointed out, is really more of a white color unless it's tarnished, but the tarnish gives it away as well. You could also tap it and it would make a much clearer sound than the other metals.

Calliopenjo
09-27-2008, 01:12 AM
Hi there,

Thanks for the ideas. Hugs and kisses to all of you. :Hug2:

Kathie Freeman
09-27-2008, 06:34 PM
You don't need a hammer to dent lead, your fingernail will do it, also it melts in very low heat, even a very low flame. That's why it's used for soldering. Iron is very dull, whereas tin may be shiny. Silver tarnishes to black but is very easily restored.

Tsu Dho Nimh
09-27-2008, 07:47 PM
Hi there,
Is there a way to tell the difference between tin, lead, iron, and silver? By sound, texture, appearance? Or a simple household mixture of ingredients to find out which is which?


tin = very bright silvery white, doesn't tarnish as much as silver, looks crystalline
lead = very soft, darker than silver or tin
iron = magnet
silver = scratch test http://blog.rubylane.com/node/181

Brutal Mustang
09-27-2008, 08:21 PM
Weight. Tin isn't all that heavy. Iron is heavy. Silver is heavier. And lead is heaviest. I work in a metal shop (and own a little silver) and can tell a number of metals apart by their weight alone.

hammerklavier
09-28-2008, 01:15 AM
Meaure each one's volume by using water displacement, then measure its weight, that should do it. If you have rods of the materials you could determine its coefficient of linear expansion: how much it expands when heated.

If you're talking very small amounts, too small to get an accurate measure using household equipment, then you'd have to test its reactions to various household chemicals. Except for the iron, which could quickly be determined using a magnent.