Atomic number: 30
Year discovered: Prehistoric to 1500
Discovered by: Andreas Sigismund Marggraf (1709-1782), German chemist in 1746.
Centuries before zinc was recognized as a distinct element, zinc ores were used for making brass (a mixture of copper and zinc).
Alloy containing 87 percent zinc was found in prehistoric ruins in Transylvania.
Metallic zinc was produced in the 13th century in India by reducing calamine (zinc carbonate) with organic substances such as wool.
Credit, as the first European to produce metallic zinc as a separate entity in commercial quantities, must go to William Champion who, in 1738, obtained patent protection for a furnace fitted with an external condenser.
The metal was re-discovered in Europe by Andreas Sigismund Marggraf, in 1746, when he showed that it could be obtained by reducing calamine with charcoal.
Marggraf introduced the microscope as an aid in chemical work and distinguished between oxides of aluminum and calcium.
He also discovered sugar in the sugar beet (1747) thus founding the sugar-beet industry.
The largest single world use for zinc is for the protection of steel against atmospheric corrosion; in the U. S. this use ranks second to use in die-casting alloys.
The next-largest world use for zinc is for die-casting alloy; in the U. S. this use ranks first.
Alloyed with copper, zinc forms the important group of alloys known as the brasses.
Zinc can be readily rolled into sheet and in this form is used in building construction, giving long service at a reasonable cost.
Zinc is used in medicine in the form of various salts, most of which are antiseptic, astringent, irritant, caustic, or toxic.
Zinc preparations are used locally in alcoholic or watery solutions, as washes for eyes, ears, wounds, or ulcers.
The irritant and caustic salts of zinc are very dangerous if taken internally.
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Information about other elements may be seen at this Chemical Elements List.
A special unit about words that include chemo-, chem- may be seen here.