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Chromium is a silver-shining relative tough heavy metal. It is resistant to air as it coats with an oxide layer that protects it from further reactions. Elemental chromium is required for the production of ferrous alloys and is an alloy component for stainless, heat-resistant steels. Even the smallest amounts of chromium gives steel a high mechanical resistance. As an iron-free alloy, e.g. with nickel, Chromium is used for chrome plating of components which are made of other metals. This way the metal parts do not corrode. Chromium compounds have many different colors and are therefore often used as pigments in paints and varnishes. Other areas of application for chromium and its compounds are as decorative chromium plating or as a catalyst.