71 Interesting Zinc Facts That You Never Knew Before This | Kidadl


71 Interesting Zinc Facts That You Never Knew Before This

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Pure zinc, also called spelter, is a blue silvery metallic element.

It is one of the most widely used metals and is profusely found in the Earth's crust. In fact, it is the 24th most abundant element on Earth and makes up about 2.3 oz (65 g) of each ton of the crust.

Zinc is a transition element of the Group 12 of the periodic table, and its symbol is internationally used as Zn. Zinc's atomic number (the total number of protons in the atomic nucleus) is 30. The most primary sources are zinc sulfide ore or zinc blend, or sphalerite.

The presence of this metal is confirmed by Rinnmann's test, which involves a cobalt cyanide paper. It turns green in the presence of zinc. Zinc is oxidized to form zinc oxide, which has a snowy white appearance.

Zinc salts impart a bluish-green coloration to the flame on burning. The physical properties of zinc include the slight brittleness at room temperature and a relatively low melting point of 419.5 C (787 F).

The importance of zinc is not only limited to the manufacture of various items, but it is also an essential element of our diet. The first pills discovered were made of zinc carbonate.

Keep reading to know the immense health benefits of zinc.

If you liked reading this article, then why not check out what is the smallest particle of an element and what is the only metallic element that is liquid at room temperature here on Kidadl?

Interesting Facts About How Zinc Was Discovered

Earlier, zinc was thought of as a mere constituent of brass and copper alloy. It was not until the 12th century that metallic zinc was discovered for the first time by the English metallurgist William Champion, who established a process to isolate zinc.

However, the credit of isolating zinc for the first time in 1764 was given to the German chemist Andreas Marggraf. He heated calamine ore, which is zinc carbonate, without the presence of air, leading to a decomposition reaction. The resultant products were zinc oxide and carbon dioxide. He then extracted zinc metal by reacting zinc oxide and coke (carbon). It is a reduction reaction that involves the removal of oxygen from the compound.

According to the International Zinc Association (ITA), zinc was heavily practiced by the Indian metallurgists much before 1000 BC. They thought of this new metal similar to tin.

Although the ancient Greeks and Romans knew its usage, it was not commonly used, unlike iron and copper. The isolation of zinc became impossible for them at that time, possibly because this metal melts at a much lower temperature before reaching the exact temperature at which it can be extracted from its ore. However, the Athenian zinc sheet is proof that the Greeks and Romans used zinc in the form of alloy in different artifacts.

The German Renaissance alchemist and physician, Paracelsus, who was born in Switzerland, was the first person to coin its name 'zincum' in his book 'Liber Mineralium II.' Zinc is derived initially from the German word, 'Zinkie,' meaning 'pointed.' Such naming from the German word is mainly due to the appearance of the pointed zinc crystals, which develop after smelting. Smelting is primarily done to extract the metal from its ore by applying excessive heat.

Importance Of Zinc

After iron, aluminum, and copper, the 4th most commonly used industrial element is zinc. An excess of 12 million tons of zinc is produced every year, of which about half is used for galvanization.

Galvanization is the process of coating materials with zinc to prevent corrosion. This process was named after Luigi Galvani by Stanislas Sorel in 1837.

Paints and sunscreens also contain zinc oxide, which imparts a metallic luster. Brass and bronze also require zinc in their production. Other applications of natural zinc include the manufacture of various household items, electrical batteries, and coins.

Upon ingesting, zinc reacts with hydrochloric acid of the gastrointestinal tract, thereby leading to the corrosion of the stomach wall. Therefore, zinc intoxication is hazardous.

Different types of zinc compounds are present, which significantly contribute to various industrial applications. For example, zinc chloride, zinc sulfate, zinc sulfide, and zinc oxide are extensively used to manufacture rubber, preservatives, ointments, dyes, and paint. Zinc coating helps prevent rusting on iron and steel surfaces, thereby preventing the permanent loss of the atoms of metals that bind with atmospheric oxygen and form oxides of the metals.

Various chemical properties of zinc make it an excellent catalyst as well. For example, zinc oxide nanoparticles are a highly efficient catalyst in the production of xanthenes. Zinc salts also help to catalyze hydroamination reactions.

Zinc In Nature

One of the naturally found chemical elements of the Earth's crust, zinc, is located in abundance in the biosphere, air, water, and all living organisms.

Its quantity in nature is maintained by natural cycling, which is brought about by natural phenomena, like forest fires, volcanic eruptions, and dust storms. Shedding leaves during autumn also contributes to an increased zinc level in the soil.

The boiling point of this pure element is 1180 K (907 C).

Zinc has abundant isotope elements, the most abundant being the isotope with mass number 64. Since it has an atomic number of 30, the electron configuration of zinc can be written as [Ar] 3d10 4s2, with Argon (Ar) having atomic number 18, and each of the d and s orbitals have a maximum capacity of 10 and 2 electrons respectively. The atomic number is represented by the subshells s, p, d, and f, along with the maximum number of electrons they can hold.

More than 30% of this transition metal is considered a recycled metal. Zinc sulfide ore gives about 95% of the mined zinc. It is used to form several alloys, like nickel silver, cadmium zinc telluride, and zinc aluminum. Other applications of this metal include die-casting for auto parts, pipe organs, sensing devices, and also as a propellant in model rockets. Molten zinc is used to dip steel and other materials to prevent rusting.

Galvanized steel involves a zinc coating on the exposed steel surface which prevents corrosion.

About Zinc In The Body And Food

Apart from industrial and household applications, zinc has innumerable health benefits in the human body and is an essential nutrient. It is the second most common trace metal after iron in the human body. About 0.05-00.9 oz (1.5-2.5 g) of this essential mineral is present in the body, so that zinc deficiency can lead to countless health problems.

Zinc plays a critical role in our body's immune system and contributes to egg fertilization, white blood cell formation, enzymatic reactions, and cell division. The zinc deficiency in the body may lead to impaired immune function, loss of appetite and hair, and decreased growth.

This transition metal may be a causal factor in impaired vision due to aging. Zinc makes a vital constituent of dietary supplements along with other metals. Common colds can be treated with zinc lozenges. Apart from its contribution to the body's immune system, zinc atoms help develop healthy skin, as it works just like an antioxidant by reducing the number of free radicals. It is used as the main ingredient in various sunscreens and anti-acne creams. Baby products also contain zinc oxide, which is insoluble in water and acts as a barrier, preventing diaper rash.

To prevent zinc deficiency in the body, we must incorporate it into our diet. Pure zinc can be obtained from various food sources, including oysters, meats, shellfish, nuts, seeds, legumes, and even dark chocolate.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created many interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for '71 Zinc Interesting Facts That Can Surprise You!', then why not take a look at lead element facts or neon elements facts?

Written By
Moumita Dutta

<p>A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.</p>

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