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Thorium, Th, 90, is a metal that sits in the actinide group of the periodic table, which is generally full of elements with large, heavy atoms that tend to fall apart. Thorium is no exception, and is radioactive.

Thorium is actually quite common in nature, more common than lead, and being radioactive, isn't too hard to find.

Thorium has been proposed as a nuclear fuel, and is supposedly more efficient than uranium, but as far as I know it hasn't been used extensively yet.

Radioactivity aside, thorium dioxide is good at resisting high temperatures, and was used in gas lantern mantels because of this, however due to the risk of radioactive smoke, this use has been phased out. It is still used in some welding electrodes for it's heat resistance though, but not more than 4% alloyed with tungsten.

Pure thorium metal is sometimes used industrially, and is sometimes used in a structural alloy with magnesium called mag-thor, both of these are however extremely rare, and gosh I'd pay dearly for either.

These are my samples!

Thoriated Lens

This is an old Kodak "Pony" camera, vintage 1950-60s or so, I believe 35mm, and the first lens has a few percent thorium oxide mixed in for a higher index of refraction, I.E. smaller lens doing the same work as a big lens. Purchased for $5 from a local flea market, really lucky find.

Date added(year-month-day):20111012, sample number:71

Tags(Elements in sample):thorium, radioactive

Thorium Mantle

These mantles where basically bags made of cloth that you'd put over a flame, and the first time you lit them they'd transform from cloth into EXTREMELY fireproof ash. The more fireproof the ash, the more brightly it could glow before being incinerated into useless dust, and just so happens there isn't much in the world that's more fireproof then thorium oxide. Oh, thorium is radioactive? I'm sure that's not a problem. Well, not until about 1990 when people started caring anyway.

Date added(year-month-day):20110727, sample number:41

Tags(Elements in sample):thorium, radioactive

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