What is an alloy? An alloy is a mixture of two metals.

Solder is an alloy used for joining metals. It is the silvery blobs on this electrical circuit.

If metals are heated until they melt, they turn from solids into liquids. An alloy is made by melting metals then mixing them together.

The first alloy to be made was probably bronze. This was made by mixing copper and tin together. Bronze was used to make pins, knives, swords, axes and bracelets. Today it is used in a wide range of machines and even to make statues.

Solder is an alloy of tin and lead, with more lead than tin. Both tin and lead will melt easily, but a mixture of the two will melt at a lower temperature and be stronger than either metal alone. Solder is used to join metals together, for example, connecting wires in electrical circuits or fixing wires to a printed circuit board.

Pewter is also an alloy of tin and lead, but with more tin than lead. In the past it was used to make such items as plates, jugs, salt and pepper pots and candle sticks. Today it is used less, but may still be used to make ornaments.

If you have a filling the dentist may use amalgam to fill the hole in your tooth. Amalgam is an alloy of five metals. They are copper, zinc, tin, mercury and silver. This alloy is like putty when made up, and can be shaped to match the rest of your tooth. It sets hard within a few minutes.

Video: Alloy: Bronze bell.

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