Infographic: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Melting Points on Earth
Ever thrown something into the fire to see if it would melt? If you were a kid trying to melt rocks, the process was likely pretty frustrating. That's because the fire would likely need to be more than twice as hot as a normal fireplace to melt quartz, which is the contents of many of your ordinary rocks. To melt substances like elements, alloys and metals, you have to get hot … really hot. This chart by Alan's Factory Outlet shows you how hot you need to get!
Some substances, which are ordinarily gases on earth, can turn from a solid to a liquid at a balmy negative 434.4 degrees Fahrenheit (-259.1 degrees Celsius), which is only a tad warmer than the coldest observable thing in the universe, the Boomerang Nebula.
On the other end of our spectrum of substances, we have the alloy tantalum carbide, which won't budge from its solid state unless it's 6,960 degrees Fahrenheit (3850 degrees Celsius). For reference, that's only about 3,000 degrees less than the surface of the sun (or 1600 degrees Celsius). Tungsten, rhenium, and carbon also won't melt easily either, needing an incredible amount of pressure and heat to change shape. For instance, if you wanted to change carbon into a diamond, you'd need a powerful furnace to heat it to about 5,430 degrees Fahrenheit (3,000 degrees Celsius), which is what GE worked on in the 1950s.
For most of human history, we could only work with heat that was only a little bit warmer than the average fireplace or furnace. Gold, bronze, copper, and sterling silver could all be melted down at temperatures less than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which is perhaps why we see those metals everywhere on ancient artifacts like jewelry, pottery, and statues.
Now, with the advent of blast furnaces, modern chemistry, and even powerful solar furnaces that fix the sun's rays to a single point, we can melt and combine new metals and alloys that were never possible with a brick furnace.
See the full chart to check out how hot we need to get to melt common substances, metals, and other elements.