- Chemistry Notes for UPSC IAS Prelims (Part II)
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Chemistry - Zinc
In the periodic table, zinc is the first element of group 12.
The symbol of zinc is ‘Zn’ and the atomic number is ‘30.’
In terms of availability, zinc is the 24th most abundant element found in the Earth's crust and it has five stable isotopes.
The most common zinc ore is sphalerite (zinc blende), which is a zinc sulfide mineral.
Andreas Sigismund Marggraf, the German chemist, first discovered the pure metallic zinc in 1746.
Interestingly, alchemists burned zinc in the air and form something different thing and they named that "philosopher's wool" or "white snow."
Salient Features of Zinc
Zinc’s color is bluish-white and it is lustrous and diamagnetic metal.
Zinc metal is normally hard and brittle; however, at when the temperature increases from 1000C, it becomes malleable.
When temperature increases 2100C, then the zinc metal again becomes brittle and can be pulverized easily by beating.
Zinc is a conductor of electricity.
Occurrence of Zinc
Zinc usually found in association with some other base metals such as copper and lead.
Sphalerite is a form of zinc sulfide and it is the most heavily mined ore.
Sphalerite contains about 60 to 62% zinc.
Alloys of Zinc
Following are the major alloys of zinc −
Compounds of Zinc
Following are the major compounds of zinc −
Zinc oxide - ZnO
Zinc sulfide - ZnS
Zinc halides - ZnF2
Zinc nitrate - Zn(NO3)2
Zinc chlorate - Zn(ClO3)2
Zinc sulfate - ZnSO4
Zinc phosphate - Zn3(PO4)2
Zinc molybdate - ZnMoO4
Zinc chromate - ZnCrO4
Zinc arsenite - Zn(AsO2)2
Zinc acetate - Zn(O2CCH3)2
Uses of Zinc
Zinc is one of the most important elements for the public health.
Zinc is largely used as an anti-corrosion agent and coating of iron and steel materials.
Zinc is commonly used as the anode or fuel of the zinc-air battery.
Zinc oxide is extensively used as a white pigment (see the image given below) in paints.
Zinc oxide is also used as a catalyst in manufacturing rubber.
Zinc is an essentially required element for our health; it is normally used as supplementary materials in the forms as zinc oxide, zinc acetate, or zinc gluconate.
Zinc is normally antioxidant material.
Zinc deficiency in human body may cause major depressive disorder.
After the bodily injury, zinc is used to speed up the healing process.
Zinc pyrithione is commonly used in shampoos to prevent the dandruff.
Chelated zinc is usually used in toothpastes and mouthwashes (liquid), as it prevents the bad breath.
Zinc also protects skin from sunburn, therefore, it is used in body lotions.