Zinc is a chemical element with the symbol Zn and atomic number 30.
It is a bluish-silvery metal that is found in ores in many parts of the world.
Zinc is the 24th most abundant element in Earth‘s crust. It makes up an average of 65 grams (2.3 ounces) of every ton of Earth’s crust.
It is one of the most widely used metals.
Zinc is a slightly brittle metal at room temperature.
For a metal, zinc has relatively low melting at 419.5 °C (787 °F).
The element was probably named by the alchemist Paracelsus after the German word Zinke (prong, tooth).
Metallic zinc was produced in India ca. 1200 AD, and the process is described as the production of a new metal similar to tin.
The metallurgists of China had achieved large-scale production of zinc by the 16th century.
Zinc was rediscovered by Andreas Sigismund Marggraf in 1746 by heating calamine with charcoal.
Work by Luigi Galvani and Alessandro Volta uncovered the electrochemical properties of zinc by 1800.
By 1837, Stanislas Sorel has named his new process of zinc-plating, galvanization, after Luigi Galvani.
Galvanization or galvanizing is the process of applying a protective zinc coating to steel or iron, to prevent rusting. It is today the primary industrial application of pure zinc. [photo below: galvanized nails]
Other applications are in electrical batteries, small non-structural castings, and alloys such as brass.
Zinc is also an essential trace element for humans and other animals, for plants and for microorganisms.
It is the second most abundant trace metal in humans after iron.
The adult human body contains about 1.5-2.5 g (0.05-00.9 oz) of zinc bound to various proteins.
Zinc is found in a wide variety of foods. Oysters are the richest zinc source per serving, but since they are not consumed regularly in the American diet, red meat and poultry provide the majority of dietary zinc. Other good zinc sources include beans, nuts, certain seafood, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, and dairy products.
Zinc deficiency was recognized as a clinical health problem in 1961. The International Zinc Association explains that zinc is critical to proper cellular growth and mitosis, fertility, immune system function, taste and smell, healthy skin and vision.
United States pennies are constructed with a zinc core comprising 98% of their weight. The remaining 2% is an electrolytically plated copper coating. The amount of copper used in pennies is subject to change if the US Treasury deems them too expensive to produce. There are as many as two billion zinc-core pennies circulating in the US!
The highly characteristic metal counters of traditional French bars are often referred to as zinc bars (or zinc), but zinc has never been used for this purpose, and the counters are really made of an alloy of lead and tin.