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The word ‘Zinc’ actually comes from the German word “Zinn”, which means Tin. It’s a bluish-white, brittle metal that has been known to mankind for millennia and is the fourth most common metal in use today, after Iron, Aluminium and Copper. Found in an array of day-to-day objects in different formats – from foods and vitamins to batteries and medicinal creams – Zinc is something we’ve all come into contact with in one way or another! This wonder material was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as a constituent of the Copper alloy, Brass. Eventually, metallic Zinc was discovered in the 16th Century.

It’s used far and wide for a range of applications, thanks to its varied properties and easy accessibility. Occurring in concentrated ores in the Earth’s crust, it is easily extracted by heating the oxide with Carbon and distilling out the metal.

Zinc is most commonly used as an anticorrosion sacrificial layer, applied to Iron or Steel as a coating. This is done through a process called galvanisation, traditionally via the hot-dip method or more modern technologies and creative chemistries. Due to being more reactive than Iron and Steel, Zinc attracts most local oxidation towards itself and prevents rust, stopping oxygen and water reaching the Iron or Steel.

The properties of Zinc include:

  • High strength
  • A low melting point for a D-block metal
  • Excellent electrical and thermal conductivity
  • High dimensional stability
  • Cold form workability
  • Reactivity with acids and alkalis


Some applications for Zinc are:

  • Galvanic coating on steel to prevent corrosion
  • As a constituent of various alloy systems
  • Use in Zinc-based alloys which can be used for diecasting
  • As an electrode in a Daniell cell and dry batteries
  • A stabiliser for certain grades of rubbers and plastics, as well as a non-toxic, white pigment used in paint manufacture (Zinc Oxide)
  • A constituent of healing creams and ointments (Zinc Oxide)


To learn more about Goodfellow’s Zinc offering, get in touch with the Goodfellow team today.