A white metal, which, when pure, is both ductile and malleable, and may be forged into very thin plates, whose colour is intermediate, between that of silver and tin, and is not altered by the air; it is nearly as hard as iron. Its specific gravity is 8.279, and, when forged, 8.666. The species of nickel ores are its alloy with arsenic and a little sulphur, and its oxide. The first is the most abundant, and the one from which nickel is usually extracted. It is known to mineralogists by the German name of kupfernickel, or false copper, from its colour and appearance; it occurs generally massive and disseminated; its colour is copper red, of various shades. By the experiments that have been made, nickel, in its pure state, possesses a magnetic power. The effect of the magnet on it is little inferior to that which it exerts on iron; and the metal itself becomes magnetic by friction with a. magnet, or even by beating with a hammer. Magnetic needles have been made of it in France, and have been preferred to those of steel, as resisting better the action of the air. The nickel preserves its magnetic property when alloyed with copper, though it is some what diminished; by a small portion of arsenic it is completely destroyed.
Nickel is fusible at 150° of Wedgwood, and forms alloy with a number of metals. Nickel is found in Cornwall, and in some other counties of England; in Germany, Sweden, France, Spain, and several parts of Asia. The Chinese employ it in making white copper; and, in conjunction with copper and zinc, they manufacture it into various kinds of children's toys. Nickel gives a certain degree of whiteness to iron; it is used with advantage by some of the Birmingham manufacturers, in combination with that metal; and, by others, in combination with brass. If it were possible to discover an easy method of working nickel, there can be little doubt but it would be found very valuable for surgical instruments, compass needles, and other articles, since it is not, like iron, liable to rust. Oxide of nickel is used for giving colours to enamels and porcelain: in different mixtures it produces brown, red, and grass-green tints.