When searching online for extrusions, you may see mentions of both ‘aluminium’ and ‘aluminum.’ It may be confusing, to say the least! Are there any differences between the two? Which one should you purchase? Is the quality different?
What’s the difference between aluminum vs aluminium?
You will be pleased to know that both spellings refer to the metallic element on the Periodic Table. It’s simply a case of one spelling being British English and the other being American and Canadian English.
Aluminium was quickly adopted in the UK. However, in the USA, people have a tendency to use both the aluminum spelling and aluminium spelling in equal amounts.
Where does ‘Alumina’ originate?
Although this chemical element is the most abundant of all metallic elements in the Earth’s crust, it does not naturally occur in metallic form. Rather, it is present in compounds found in virtually every type of rock, as well as in animals and plants.
The term “alumina” refers to an oxide of aluminum. It has been used since 1790. However, it wasn’t for a further few years that we started referring to it as an element itself. This is when Sir Humphry Davy, a British chemist, came onto the lexical scene.
In the early nineteenth century, he read some of his research in front of the Royal Society where he proposed the name ‘alumium’ – yes, a completely different word compared to the two versions we use today!
The word ‘alumium’ is a fully understandable coinage from alumina, the Latin term.
When did we move from ‘alumium’ to ‘aluminum?’
The Oxford English Dictionary reports that Sir Humphry Davy used the term ‘alumium’ in a lecture he delivered in 1809 and again in his works published in 1810.
He then revised his coinage further in 1812, opting for aluminum instead.
However, in the year prior another scientist coined the word aluminium when reviewing a different Davy lecture.
The ‘-ium’ ending was one that scientists were already familiar with at the time, as Davy had incidentally coined the words sodium and potassium.
Aluminum or aluminium in official documentation?
Webster’s Dictionary described aluminium as being “especially British” in their Second International Dictionary.
In 1925, the American Chemical Society officially adopted aluminum. However, in 1990, aluminium was accepted as the international standard by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry.
The use of both words today
Today, this chemical element is widely referred to as aluminium, with only English speakers of North America seeming to prefer the aluminum spelling.