Zinc is a brittle metal which has a blue cast. Extraction is achieved by heating the oxide with carbon and distilling out the metal. Zinc tarnishes in air and reacts with acids and alkalis. Zinc is used widely throughout industry; for example, it is used as a galvanic coating on steel to prevent corrosion, and is used as a constituent of various alloy systems (e.g. with copper in brass), as well as in zinc-base alloys which can be used for diecasting (the other alloy constituents are aluminium, copper and magnesium). Pure zinc is used as an electrode in a Daniell cell and also in dry batteries. Zinc oxide is used as a stabiliser for certain grades of rubbers and plastics, as well as a non-toxic, white pigment used in paint manufacture. Zinc oxide also has astringent and soothing qualities and is used as a constituent of creams and ointments. In the eighteenth century it was regarded as a semi-metal because of its relative brittleness.


Also known as

Known to the Greeks and Romans as a constituent of the copper alloy, brass, but metallic zinc was not discovered until the 16th. century by Paracelcus.

Readily accessible as it occurs in concentrated ores from which it is easily extracted, it has an abundance of 75 ppm in the earth’s crust.

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Atomic number 30 Clip
Atomic / Molecular Weight 65.39 gmol-1Clip
Density 7135 kgm-3Clip
Lattice constant 266 fmClip
Melting Point 692.74 KClip
Boiling Point 1183 KClip
Tensile strength 150000000 Nm-2Clip
Linear expansivity 0.0000302 K-1Clip
Specific heat capacity 385 Jkg-1K-1Clip
Latent heat of fusion 117000 Jkg-1Clip
Thermal conductivity 111 to 117 Wm-1K-1Clip
Acoustic wave velocity (longitudinal bulk waves) 4187 ms-1Clip
Acoustic wave velocity (Irrotational waves) 3826 ms-1Clip
Acoustic wave velocity (Shear waves) 2421 ms-1Clip
Acoustic wave velocity (Rayleigh waves) 2225 ms-1Clip
Bulk Modulus of Rigidity 72000000000 Nm-2Clip
Electromotive Series 0.76 VClip
Electrical Conductivity 16900000 Sm-1Clip
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See also: Dezincification, Galvanize, Hot Dip, Periodic Table, Zinc Chloride, Zinc Chromate, Zinc Nitrate, Zinc Oxide, Zinc Phosphate, Zinc Sulphate, Zinc Sulphide, Zincography.

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Subjects: Chemistry

International Zinc Association A non-profit organization that represents the world zinc industry.