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Story of Radioactive Radium

Last updated date: 24th Feb 2024
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Overview of Radium Element

Have you ever noticed that some things are shiny at night and appear neon when lights are turned off? Do you know what element is used in them?  It is the radium element. Radium is a radioactive element found in small amounts in uranium ore. Radium is the most radioactive of all the elements, which means that it gives off more radiation than any other element. In this article, we will learn about the properties and characteristics of the radium element. We will also read about its modern applications. So, let's dive in! 

What is Radium and the Place of Radium in the Periodic Table? 

The discovery of radium (a radioactive element) is among the most important ones accomplished during the final years of the nineteenth century. The young scientist Marie Curie gained national attention thanks to studying this unique element, which transformed scientific ideas worldwide. In 1898, Marie Curie and her husband Pierre discovered this element while working with a mineral named pitchblende. Marie Curie was unable to successfully extract pure radium until another 12 years later, but later found success in 1910.

In the periodic table, radium is placed as the sixth element in the second column. It is the alkaline earth element that weighs the most.

Radium atoms have 88 of both radium electrons as well as radium protons and additionally have 2 valence electrons in their outer shell.



Atomic Number


Atomic Weight



Alkaline earth metal

Phase at room temperature



5.5 grams per cm cubed

Melting point

700 degree celsius, 1292 degrees Fahrenheit

Boiling point

1140 degree celsius, 2084 degrees Fahrenheit

Discovered by

Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898

Properties of Radium

The word "radium" comes from the Latin word "radius", which means ray or beam of light. It is the sixth element in group 2 of the periodic table, also known as alkaline earth metals. In this article, we will look at what radium is and various radium element facts and its properties.

Radium Paint

Radium Paint 

Radium is a silvery-white metal with a melting point of 900 degrees Celsius, which is not far from room temperature. It is the sixth element in row 4 of the periodic table, also known as the actinides. Radium is an alkaline earth metal and a member of group 2, being chemically similar to calcium. 

Radium has no stable isotopes; its most stable isotope, 226 Ra, decays into radon gas (222 Rn) with a half-life of 1600 years. All other isotopes have half-lives of less than 4 days, and the majority have half-lives of less than 1 minute. This means that any sample of radium metal will eventually become mostly radon gas (a radioactive noble gas).

Radium Characteristics 

Below are listed a few crucial radium characteristics

  1. The Atomic Number (Radium Protons) of the Radium Element: 88

  2. The Atomic Weight of Radium Element: 226

  3. The Melting Point of Radium Element: 973 K (700°C or 1292°F)

  4. The Boiling Point of Radium Element: 1413 K (1140°C or 2084°F)

  5. The Density of Radium Element: 5 grams per cubic centimetre

  6. Phase at Room Temperature: Solid

  7. Elemental Classification of Radium Element: Metal


The image shows representation of radium


Representation of Radium


  1. Radium in the Periodic Table

  • Period Number: 7  

  • Group Number: 2   

  • Group Name: Alkaline Earth Metal

  • Electron Configuration: [Rn] 7s2


Fun Facts About Radium

Till now we learned about the properties and placement of radium elements on the periodic table. In this section of the article, we have listed down radium element facts:

  • The name "curium" given to an element honours radium's discoverers.

  • Marie Curie also identified the radio element polonium while studying with pitchblende.

  • Radium was once believed to be the miracle element because it produced heat and light before the risks of radiation were recognised.

  • As part of a decay pathway, radium progressively transforms into radon, polonium, and lead.

  • The "curie" unit is named after two great scientists named Marie and Pierre Curie.

What is the Modern Application of Radium?

Radium had a variety of applications when it was originally found. It was used as a component of glow-in-the-dark paint. Clocks, watches, and other instruments were painted with these colours so users could see them at night. Other applications included the manufacture of toothpaste, medical treatments like cancer medication, and scientific study.

Due to the risk associated with its radioactivity, radium does not have any significant industrial applications nowadays.


To conclude all the learnings from this article, we can say that radium has been very useful since the day it was discovered and has also taken various lives because of radioactivity. In this article, we looked at the various aspects of radium facts and characteristics features of the element radium. Radium, as a radioactive element, finds use in various nuclear reactions and is also used to make other elements but is not used as a regular day-to-day element as it can be fatal to human health.

When disposed of, radioactive elements like radium are buried about 500 meters deep in the earth's surface, protected in tanks. With this, we would like to end this article and hope we were understandable and easy to learn.

FAQs on Story of Radioactive Radium

1. How long do radium elements glow?

A radium paint product can have glowing periods ranging from a few hours to a few decades, which usually depends on the type of environmental conditions, care and activity of the substance. 

2. What will happen if someone eats radium?

It can have various hazardous health effects on the person's body ranging from anaemia (blood loss), cataracts (eyesight loss), fractured teeth, and cancer and eventually can also lead to death.

3. Why is radium used in various kinds of toothpaste?

The radioactive radiation of radium elements strengthens tooth and gums' defences. The bacteria's destructive action is hampered since the cells are filled with new life energy.