Zinc, in commerce also spelter, is a metallic chemical element; it has the symbol Zn and atomic number 30. It is the first element of group 12 of the periodic table. Zinc is, in some respects, chemically similar to magnesium, because its ion is of similar size and its only common oxidation state is +2. Zinc is the 24th most abundant element in the Earth's crust and has five stable isotopes. The most common zinc ore is sphalerite (zinc blende), a zinc sulfide mineral. The largest mineable amounts are found in Australia, Asia, and the United States. Zinc production includes froth flotation of the ore, roasting, and final extraction using electricity (electrowinning).

Brass, which is an alloy of copper and zinc, has been used since at least the 10th century BC. Impure zinc metal was not produced in large scale until the 13th century in India, while the metal was unknown to Europe until the end of the 16th century. Alchemists burned zinc in air to form what they called "philosopher's wool" or "white snow".

The element was probably named by the alchemist Paracelsus after the German word Zinke. German chemist Andreas Sigismund Marggraf is normally given credit for discovering pure metallic zinc in 1746. Work by Luigi Galvani and Alessandro Volta uncovered the electrochemical properties of zinc by 1800. Corrosion-resistant zinc plating of iron (hot-dip galvanizing) is the major application for zinc. Other applications are in batteries, small non-structural castings, and alloys, such as brass. A variety of zinc compounds are commonly used, such as zinc carbonate and zinc gluconate (as dietary supplements), zinc chloride (in deodorants), zinc pyrithione (anti-dandruff shampoos), zinc sulfide (in luminescent paints), and zinc methyl or zinc diethyl in the organic laboratory.

Zinc is an essential mineral of "exceptional biologic and public health importance". Zinc deficiency affects about two billion people in the developing world and is associated with many diseases. In children it causes growth retardation, delayed sexual maturation, infection susceptibility, and diarrhea, contributing to the death of about 800,000 children worldwide per year. Enzymes with a zinc atom in the reactive center are widespread in biochemistry, such as alcohol dehydrogenase in humans. Consumption of excess zinc can cause ataxia, lethargy and copper deficiency.

Read more about Zinc:  Applications, Biological Role

Other articles related to "zinc":

Compounds Of Zinc
... Compounds of zinc are chemical compounds containing the element zinc which is a member of the group 12 of the periodic table ... Zinc may be classified as a post-transition main group element with zinc(II) having much chemical behaviour in common with copper(II) ... Many salts of zinc(II) are isomorphous with salts of magnesium(II) due to the ionic radii of the cations being almost the same ...
Compounds Of Zinc - See Also
... Cadmium zinc telluride Mercury cadmium telluride Zinc gluconate Zinc pyrithione Zinc ricinoleate Zinc stearate Zinc pest ...
Zinc, Arkansas - School District
... Zinc, along with Bergman, is within the Bergman School District. ...
Compounds Of Zinc - Binary Compounds - Salts
... white pigment), the chromate ZnCrO 4 (one of the few colored zinc compounds), the arsenite Zn(AsO2)2 (colorless powder) and the arsenate octahydrate Zn(AsO 4) 2•8H 2O (white powder ... One of the simplest examples of an organic compound of zinc is the acetate Zn(O 2CCH 3) 2, which has several medicinal applications ... Zinc salts are usually fully dissociated in aqueous solution ...
Compounds Of Zinc - Bio-complexes
... A very large number of metallo-enzymes contain zinc(II) ... Also many proteins contain zinc for structural reasons ... The zinc ion is invariably 4-coordinate with at least three ligands that are amino-acid side-chains ...