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Zinc (Zn)

zinc specimens

Zinc is essential for human health.

Zinc is a blue grey, brittle metal, and is commonly used to coat iron and steel to stop them rusting, called galvanizing. From around 1860 to 1880 about 25% of the UK’s zinc was mined in Cornwall. Zinc is used to make many useful alloys. Brass, an alloy of zinc and copper, is probably the best known. Brass was first used about 2,500 years ago and was widely used by the Romans, to make things like coins, kettles and decorative items. Brass is still used today, particularly in musical instruments, screws and other hardware that must resist corrosion. Zinc is alloyed with lead and tin to make solder, a metal with a relatively low melting point used to join electrical components, pipes and other metallic items. Zinc can also be found in the human body, and is vital for many biological functions such as disease resistance, wound healing, digestion, reproduction, physical growth, diabetes control, taste and smell.

Data Panel: Zinc ore: Sphalerite

(Zn,Fe) S Zinc iron sulphide

Black, brown, yellow, reddish, green or white
Crystal system
Crystal habit

Include tetrahedrons or dodecahedrons with cube faces

Adamantine, resinous


Photograph reproduced with the kind permission of the Geevor Archive

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