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Wolfram vs. Tungsten: What's the Difference?

By Harlon Moss & Janet White || Updated on May 23, 2024
Wolfram refers to the chemical element commonly known as tungsten, used mainly in Europe, while tungsten is the term used predominantly in the United States for the same element, recognized for its high melting point.

Key Differences

Wolfram and tungsten are names for the same chemical element with the symbol W and atomic number 74. Wolfram is derived from the mineral wolframite, whereas tungsten comes from the Swedish words "tung sten," meaning heavy stone.
Wolfram is more commonly used in European languages and contexts, particularly in Germany and Scandinavian countries. In contrast, tungsten is the preferred term in English-speaking countries, especially the United States.
The name wolfram highlights the element's association with wolframite ore, while the name tungsten emphasizes its physical properties, such as its density and weight.
In scientific literature and industry, wolfram is often used in Europe, whereas tungsten is standard in American scientific and industrial contexts.
Both terms refer to the same element used extensively in manufacturing, especially for items requiring high heat resistance, such as light bulb filaments and cutting tools.
Despite the regional differences in terminology, both wolfram and tungsten have the same chemical properties, being incredibly dense and having the highest melting point of all metals.
The choice between wolfram and tungsten often depends on historical and linguistic preferences rather than any technical distinction.

Comparison Chart

Origin of Name

Derived from wolframite ore
Swedish for "heavy stone"

Regional Usage

Europe (e.g., Germany, Sweden)
United States

Common Contexts

European scientific literature
American scientific literature

Industrial Usage

Used in European industries
Used in American industries



Wolfram and Tungsten Definitions


A chemical element with symbol W.
The lab tested the purity of the wolfram sample.


A chemical element with symbol W.
Tungsten is essential in modern electronics.


Known for its hardness and density.
The drill bit was made of wolfram for extra durability.


Used in American contexts for wolfram.
The company specializes in tungsten alloys.


Derived from the mineral wolframite.
Wolframite was historically important in mining wolfram.


Known for its high melting point.
Tungsten filaments are used in incandescent light bulbs.


Used in European contexts for tungsten.
The European journal published an article on wolfram properties.


Recognized for its strength and weight.
Tungsten rings are popular for their durability.


Applied in various high-temperature applications.
The aerospace component contained wolfram.


A hard, brittle, corrosion-resistant, gray to white metallic element extracted from wolframite, scheelite, and other minerals, having the highest melting point and lowest vapor pressure of any metal. Tungsten and its alloys are used in high-temperature structural materials and wear-resistant tools and machine parts; in electrical elements, notably lamp filaments; and in instruments requiring thermally compatible glass-to-metal seals. Atomic number 74; atomic weight 183.84; melting point 3,422°C; boiling point 5,555°C; specific gravity 19.3 (20°C); valence 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. Also called wolfram. See Periodic Table.


See tungsten.


A rare metallic chemical element (symbol W, from Latin wolframium) with an atomic number of 74.




A light bulb containing tungsten.


(dated) tungsten


Scheelite, calcium tungstate


Same as Wolframite.


A rare element of the chromium group found in certain minerals, as wolfram and scheelite, and isolated as a heavy steel-gray metal which is very hard and infusible. It has both acid and basic properties. When alloyed in small quantities with steel, it greatly increases its hardness. Symbol W (Wolframium). Atomic weight, 183.6. Specific gravity, 18.


Same as tungsten.


Scheelite, or calcium tungstate.


A heavy gray-white metallic element; the pure form is used mainly in electrical applications; it is found in several ores including wolframite and scheelite


A heavy gray-white metallic element; the pure form is used mainly in electrical applications; it is found in several ores including wolframite and scheelite


Integral in many industrial processes.
Tungsten carbide is used in cutting tools.


What is the difference between wolfram and tungsten?

There is no chemical difference; they are two names for the same element, used in different regions.

Where is the term wolfram commonly used?

Wolfram is commonly used in Europe, especially in Germany and Scandinavian countries.

What is wolfram?

Wolfram is another name for the chemical element tungsten, commonly used in Europe.

Where is the term tungsten commonly used?

Tungsten is commonly used in the United States and other English-speaking countries.

What are common uses for wolfram/tungsten?

Both are used in applications requiring high temperature resistance, such as light bulb filaments and cutting tools.

What is wolframite?

Wolframite is a mineral that is the primary source of the element wolfram (tungsten).

Does wolfram have different properties from tungsten?

No, wolfram and tungsten have the same chemical and physical properties.

Is wolfram more common in scientific literature?

Wolfram is more common in European scientific literature, while tungsten is used in American literature.

Why does wolfram have the symbol W?

The symbol W comes from the German name "Wolfram."

Why is tungsten preferred in American contexts?

Tungsten is preferred in American contexts due to historical and linguistic preferences.

What industries use wolfram/tungsten?

Both are used in manufacturing, electronics, aerospace, and mining industries.

What element has the highest melting point?

Tungsten (wolfram) has the highest melting point of all metals.

What is tungsten?

Tungsten is a chemical element with the symbol W, known for its high melting point and density.

Why is tungsten called a heavy stone?

The name tungsten is derived from the Swedish words for heavy stone due to its density.

Are there any health concerns with wolfram/tungsten?

Generally, tungsten is considered safe, but fine particles or dust should be handled with care.

Is wolfram used in jewelry?

Yes, both wolfram and tungsten are used in jewelry, particularly for their hardness and durability.

How is tungsten extracted?

Tungsten is extracted from minerals like wolframite and scheelite through a series of chemical processes.

Can wolfram and tungsten be used interchangeably?

Yes, the terms can be used interchangeably depending on the regional context.

What is tungsten carbide?

Tungsten carbide is a compound used in cutting tools and abrasives for its hardness.

What is the atomic number of wolfram/tungsten?

The atomic number of wolfram/tungsten is 74.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Co-written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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