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MFA# 2001.703


Print from Zinc plate
MFA# 2004.131

A bluish-white, lustrous metallic element. Zinc occurs with an abundance of 0.02% in the earth's crust in the minerals Smithsonite (ZnCO3), Sphalerite (ZnS), Zincite, Willemite, and Gahnite. Zinc was discovered in prehistoric times and it was first isolated from the ores in India in the 13th century by the reduction of Calamine. China was mass producing zinc by the 16th century. In Europe, commercial production began after techniques for its isolation were discovered by Andreas Sigismund Marggraf in Germany in 1746. The present major mining producers are : China, Peru, Australia, United sates, Canada, India, Kazakhstan, Bolivia, Mexico, Ireland. The malleable metal is ductile at 150 C, but becomes so brittle at 180 C that it can be powdered. It is most commonly used as an anti-corrosive galvanized coating for other metals. Metallic zinc is also used in alloys, such as Brass, to increase workability. Zinc oxides are used in artists pigments, photocopiers, sunscreens, and antiseptic ointments. Zinc sulfides are used as phosphors in cathode ray tubes. Zinc containing pigments include Zinc white, Zinc yellow, and Lithopone.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Metallic zinc

Zn; merrillite; Zink (Ned., Deut., Sven.); zinc (Fr;); zinco (It., Port.); cinc (Esp.) 


Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Reacts slowly with ammonia, water, acetic acid, sulfuric acid, or hydrochloric acid.
  • Readily reacts with nitric acid and alkali hydroxides.
  • Burns in air with a bluish green flame.
Composition Zn (atomic no. = 30)
CAS 7440-66-6
Mohs Hardness 2.5
Melting Point 419.5 C
Density 7.14 g/ml
Molecular Weight at. wt. = 65.38
Boiling Point 908 C

Resources and Citations

  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 10255
  • Chemical & Engineering News, American Chemical Society, Washington DC, 81 (36) , Sept. 8, 2003 Comment: Ronald Breslow, p. 86: discovery in Europe by Andreas Marggraf in 1746

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