Aluminum is the most abundant (8,13%) metallic element in the earth's crust and after oxygen and silicon, the third most abundant of all elements in the crust. Because of its strong affinity to oxygen, it is not found in the elemental state but only in combined forms such as oxides or silicates.

The metal derives its name from alumen, the Latin name for alum. In 1761 L. B. G de Morveau proposed the name alumine for the base in alum, and in 1787 Lavoisier definitely identified it as the oxide of a still undiscovered metal. In 1807 Sir Humphrey Davy proposed the name aluminum for this metal and later agreed to change it to aluminum. Shortly thereafter, the name aluminium was adopted to conform to the "ium" ending of most elements, and this spelling is now in general use throughout the world. Aluminum was also the accepted spelling in the United States until 1925 when the American Chemical Society officially reverted to aluminum.