Featured Element: Lanthanum

ProChem Lanthanum metal

Atomic Number: 57
Atomic Mass: 138.9055
Melting Point: 918° C
Boiling Point: 3464° C

Lanthanum is a white-silver metal that is ductile, malleable, and highly reactive.  Lanthanum that is exposed to air will rapidly form the oxide. It has 2 stable isotopes and 23 radioactive ones. Carl Gustaf Mosander discovered it in 1839, but it was not until 1923 that a fairly pure sample was produced. Lanthanum is present at 34 parts per million in the earth’s surface which makes it about as abundant as copper, but it does not occur in large deposits like copper. Lanthanum was one of the first rare earth elements to be found after Cerium because it is the strongest base of the trivalent lanthanides.

Interesting Facts:

Lanthanum is soft enough that at room temperature you can slice it with a knife.

The word Lanthanum comes from the Greek word Lanthano which means “to be hidden.”

Mosander would later split Lanthana into impure Lanthanum and another rare earth he dubbed didymium. Incidentally, didymium would be further broken down into samarium, neodymium, and praseodymium.

Lanthanum was used in the late 1800s as part of a mixture that made lanterns glow green.

Lanthanum and other Rare-earth compounds are used in carbon arc lighting for studio lighting and projection purposes.

Lanthanum is used as a petroleum cracking catalyst which splits the long chains of hydrocarbons into shorter species.


Lanthanum is a rare earth element and can be found in rare-earth minerals like cerite, monazite, allanite, and bastnasite. Despite being a rare-earth element it is surprisingly abundant, but is difficult to isolate from the other components in the ore.

Industrial Uses:

Lanthanum is an important component in nickel metal hydride batteries for hybrid cars. A Toyota Prius battery needs about 10 kg of lanthanum. It’s also used as an additive to make nodular cast iron and steel.  Lanthanum oxide is used in camera lenses and night vision goggles. One of the most important uses of Lanthanum is in carbon arc lamps; the lanthanum compound in the lamp’s electrode determines where the color of the light produced. Lanthanum glass is used in the production of optical fibers, and is a component of ZBLAN, a material that is 100 times better than normal optical fibers. Lanthanum has seen some use in reducing the phosphate levels of patients with kidney disease along with phosphate levels in swimming pools.

Browse all of our Lanthanum products:  Lanthanum products


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  • "Lanthanum Facts." Softschools. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 July 2016.
  • "Lanthanum." Chemistry Explained. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 July 2016.
  • "Lanthanum Element Facts / Chemistry." Chemicool. Chemicool.com, 17 Oct. 2012.
        Web. 26 July 2016.

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