Argon vs. Oxygen

What's the Difference?

Argon and oxygen are both elements found in the Earth's atmosphere, but they have distinct properties and roles. Oxygen is a highly reactive gas that is essential for supporting life, as it is involved in the process of respiration. It is also a key component in the formation of ozone, which protects the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation. On the other hand, argon is an inert gas that does not readily react with other elements. It is the most abundant noble gas in the atmosphere and is often used in various applications, such as filling incandescent light bulbs and providing an inert atmosphere for welding. While oxygen is crucial for sustaining life, argon plays a more passive role in the atmosphere.


Photo by Rizky Nuriman on Unsplash
Atomic Number188
Atomic Mass39.94815.999
Electron Configuration[Ne] 3s² 3p⁶[He] 2s² 2p⁴
Group18 (Noble gases)16 (Chalcogens)
Ionization Energy1520.6 kJ/mol1313.9 kJ/mol
Boiling Point-185.8°C-183.0°C
Melting Point-189.3°C-218.79°C
Photo by Samuel Ramos on Unsplash

Further Detail


Argon and oxygen are two essential elements found in the Earth's atmosphere. While both gases play crucial roles in various processes, they possess distinct attributes that set them apart. In this article, we will explore and compare the properties, uses, and effects of argon and oxygen.

Physical Properties

Argon is a noble gas with the atomic number 18 and symbol Ar. It is colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Argon is the third most abundant gas in the Earth's atmosphere, constituting approximately 0.934% of the air we breathe. It is a monatomic gas, meaning it exists as individual atoms rather than molecules. On the other hand, oxygen is a reactive gas with the atomic number 8 and symbol O. It is also colorless, odorless, and tasteless. Oxygen is the second most abundant gas in the atmosphere, making up around 20.95% of the air.

Chemical Properties

Argon is an inert gas, meaning it is highly stable and does not readily react with other elements or compounds. It has a full outer electron shell, making it unreactive and non-flammable. Due to its stability, argon is often used as a protective gas in various industrial processes, such as welding and metal fabrication. Oxygen, on the other hand, is highly reactive and readily combines with other elements. It supports combustion and is essential for respiration in most living organisms. Oxygen is involved in numerous chemical reactions, making it a vital component in various industries, including steel production, medicine, and water treatment.


Argon finds applications in a range of industries. Its inert nature makes it ideal for use in light bulbs, where it prevents the filament from oxidizing and prolongs the bulb's lifespan. Argon is also used in the production of lasers, as a shielding gas in arc welding, and as a protective atmosphere in the manufacturing of metals. Additionally, argon is employed in the preservation of historical documents and artifacts, as it prevents degradation caused by exposure to oxygen and moisture.

Oxygen, on the other hand, has diverse uses due to its reactivity. It is vital for respiration in animals, including humans, and is used in medical settings to assist patients with breathing difficulties. Oxygen is also crucial in the steel industry, where it is blown into furnaces to aid in the combustion of impurities during the production of iron and steel. Furthermore, oxygen is used in the chemical industry for the synthesis of various compounds and in water treatment processes to enhance the breakdown of organic matter.

Effects on the Environment

Argon is considered a non-toxic gas and does not have any significant adverse effects on the environment. It is a naturally occurring component of the atmosphere and does not contribute to air pollution or climate change. Oxygen, on the other hand, plays a vital role in the environment but can also have negative effects. While necessary for respiration, excessive oxygen levels can lead to increased combustion risks. Additionally, oxygen is involved in the process of oxidation, which can cause the deterioration of materials and structures over time.

Effects on Human Health

Argon is generally considered non-toxic and does not pose any direct health risks to humans. It is not known to have any physiological effects or cause any significant health concerns. Oxygen, on the other hand, is essential for human survival. However, breathing pure oxygen at high concentrations for extended periods can be harmful and may cause lung damage. Oxygen toxicity can occur in certain medical treatments or in environments with increased oxygen levels, such as in diving or aerospace activities.


In conclusion, argon and oxygen are two important gases with distinct attributes. Argon is an inert gas, widely used for its stability and protective properties in various industries. Oxygen, on the other hand, is a reactive gas vital for respiration and involved in numerous chemical reactions. While argon is non-toxic and has minimal environmental impact, oxygen is essential for life but can also have negative effects when present in excessive amounts. Understanding the properties and uses of these gases allows us to appreciate their significance in our daily lives and various industrial processes.

Comparisons may contain inaccurate information about people, places, or facts. Please report any issues.