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Argon

an inert gas


Argon is an inert gas. Argon atoms are quite happy on their own and don't form compounds, well not unless subjected to some very odd conditions, and even then the compounds aren't very stable. Argon is useful for various things such as "neon signs". The term "neon signs" is generic and different colours of electrically powered gas discharge tubes contain various different elements, usually inert gases.

Argon forms about 1% of the Earth's atmosphere and can be extracted by distilling air at cryogenic temperatures. It is, like other inert gases, monatomic. It's similar to helium but not so light.

Argon is used for things where its non-reactivity is important. For example it's squirted about in welding where its total non-inflammability stops the welding materials from burning. Food packed in argon doesn't go bad, because the bugglies that make food go bad can't breath in an argon atmosphere. Indeed, if you try to breath argon yourself you'd find you become faint within a few seconds. This is inadvisable as it can be risky.

Yet argon is non-toxic. It doesn't smell, doesn't form stable compounds, and it doesn't catch fire. It's not "gas" in the sense of camping gas.


Argon, not to be confused with Argos which is an online shop.