Lead vs. Tungsten

What's the Difference?

Lead and tungsten are both heavy metals with high densities, making them useful in various applications. However, they differ in terms of their properties and uses. Lead is a soft and malleable metal with a low melting point, making it easy to shape and mold. It is commonly used in construction, batteries, and radiation shielding due to its ability to absorb and block radiation. On the other hand, tungsten is a hard and brittle metal with an extremely high melting point, making it suitable for high-temperature applications. It is often used in electrical contacts, light bulb filaments, and as an alloying element in steel to improve its strength and hardness. Overall, while lead is more versatile and widely used, tungsten excels in extreme temperature conditions and specific industrial applications.


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Atomic Number8274
Atomic Weight207.2183.84
Melting Point (°C)327.53422
Boiling Point (°C)17495555
Density (g/cm³)11.3419.25
Electron Configuration[Xe] 4f^14 5d^10 6s^2 6p^2[Xe] 4f^14 5d^4 6s^2
Common UsesBatteries, ammunition, radiation shieldingLight bulbs, electrical contacts, X-ray tubes
Photo by Callum Shaw on Unsplash

Further Detail


Lead and tungsten are two elements that have distinct properties and applications in various industries. In this article, we will explore the attributes of lead and tungsten, highlighting their differences and similarities. From their physical properties to their chemical behavior and industrial uses, we will delve into the unique characteristics of these elements.

Physical Properties

Lead is a heavy metal with a relatively low melting point of 327.5°C (621.5°F) and a boiling point of 1,749°C (3,180°F). It is a soft and malleable metal, making it easy to shape and form into various objects. On the other hand, tungsten is a refractory metal with an extremely high melting point of 3,422°C (6,192°F) and a boiling point of 5,555°C (10,031°F). It is known for its exceptional hardness and high density, making it one of the densest elements.

Chemical Properties

Lead is a moderately reactive metal that readily reacts with oxygen to form a protective layer of lead oxide on its surface. This oxide layer prevents further oxidation, making lead resistant to corrosion. However, lead can react with certain acids and alkalis, which can lead to the formation of soluble lead compounds. Tungsten, on the other hand, is highly resistant to corrosion and does not react with oxygen or most acids. It is considered one of the most chemically stable elements, making it suitable for applications in harsh environments.

Industrial Applications

Lead has been used by humans for thousands of years due to its versatility and low cost. It has numerous industrial applications, including the production of batteries, ammunition, radiation shielding, and soldering materials. Lead is also used in construction, particularly for roofing, plumbing, and electrical wiring. However, due to its toxicity, the use of lead has been significantly reduced in recent years, especially in consumer products.

Tungsten, on the other hand, has unique properties that make it indispensable in various industries. Its high melting point and density make it ideal for applications in the aerospace and defense sectors. Tungsten is used in the production of aircraft parts, missiles, and armor-piercing ammunition. It is also widely used in the manufacturing of electrical contacts, light bulb filaments, and X-ray tubes. Additionally, tungsten alloys are utilized in the production of high-speed steel, which is used for cutting tools and machining applications.

Environmental Impact

Lead is a well-known environmental pollutant and poses significant health risks. It can contaminate soil, water, and air, leading to adverse effects on human health and the ecosystem. Exposure to lead can cause neurological damage, developmental issues in children, and various other health problems. As a result, there are strict regulations and guidelines in place to limit lead exposure and promote its safe handling and disposal.

Tungsten, on the other hand, is considered relatively inert and does not pose significant environmental risks. It is not easily released into the environment and does not have adverse effects on human health or the ecosystem when used responsibly. However, the mining and extraction of tungsten can have environmental impacts, particularly in terms of energy consumption and habitat disruption. Proper management and sustainable practices are essential to minimize these effects.


Lead and tungsten are two elements with distinct attributes and applications. While lead is a soft and malleable metal with moderate reactivity, tungsten is a hard and chemically stable refractory metal. Lead has a wide range of industrial uses but is limited due to its toxicity, while tungsten finds applications in aerospace, defense, and various other industries. Understanding the physical and chemical properties of these elements is crucial for their safe and responsible use in various applications.

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