The key difference between an alloy and an amalgam is that an alloy contains a combination of both metals and nonmetals, while an amalgam contains only metals. Both alloys and amalgams are mixtures of different components, and include metals. They have different properties and uses. Both alloys and amalgam indicate different characteristics than their starting materials.
What is an Alloy?
Alloys are metallic compounds. An alloy contains at least one metal element along with other elements. Alloys have improved properties when compared to properties of every single element they are made of. We can obtain these properties by mixing elements in different percentages. Therefore, they give the desired properties by mixing different metals and elements in different amounts. Almost all alloys have a luster due to the presence of the metal component. Alloys are also able to conduct electricity due to the presence of a metal component.
We can classify alloys in different ways. For example, they can be either homogenous or heterogeneous. Homogenous alloys have components distributed throughout the material uniformly. Heterogeneous alloys, on the other hand, have components distributed in an unorganized manner.
Furthermore, there are substitutional and interstitial alloys. Substitutional alloys are metal alloys formed from substituting one metal atom for another metal atom of similar size. Interstitial alloys are metal alloys formed by inserting smaller atoms into holes of the metal lattice.
What is an Amalgam?
Amalgam is a mixture of different metals that is used as a tooth filling in dentistry. It is the most effective and common tooth filling we use today. Sometimes we call it “silver amalgam” because it appears in silver color. Generally, this filling material contains liquid mercury and a mixture of metal alloys. We can use it to fill the cavities of the tooth so that tooth decay can be prevented.
Key Difference - Alloy vs Amalgam
What is the Difference Between Alloy and Amalgam?
Both alloy and amalgam are mixtures of different components including metals. The key difference between alloy and amalgam is that an alloy contains a combination of metals and nonmetals whereas amalgam contains a combination of metals. Generally, the amalgam contains mercury, silver, tin, copper and some other trace elements.
Moreover, the alloys have many different important applications including the construction field, manufacturing kitchen items, etc. Meanwhile, the amalgam is used as a tooth filling material to prevent tooth cavities. Dentists make the amalgam mixture at the time where the application is done; they have to mix mercury with a silver-based alloy and apply it in the cavities before setting.