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Tin – A Useful Element

Tin is a silvery/grey chemical element with atomic number 50 and symbol Sn. It is a metal related to germanium and lead. It was discovered in Bronze Age and is being used since then. Due to its strong corrosion resistant property, it is mainly used to coat different metals.


The process by which it’s extracted is known as smelting.

  • The ores are first roasted in reverberate furnace or multiple hearth furnace between 500-600°C.
  • Then they are passed through oxidation reduction and chlorination process to clean all the impurities.
  • Subsequently, it is frequently roasted and acid solutions are added to remove any left-over impurities.
  • The tin produced in this process is called tin oxide.
  • It is refined by liquation and electrolytic refining.
  • In pure form, it is obtained by electrolysis. Tin sulphate is electrolyte and it contains hydrofluorosilicic acid (H2SiF6) and sulphuric acid. Anode is impure tin while pure tin sheet serves as cathode.


  • Resists water but can be affected by acids or alkalis
  • Stable at room temperature
  • Used as a protective coat for other metals due to its corrosion resistant property.


Tin has the greatest number of isotopes i.e. 10. This is due to its atomic number, 50 and is said to be a “magic number” in nuclear physics. The most plentiful are 120Sn 118Sn, and 116Sn and the least plentiful is 115Sn.


Tin is found in small amount in food, since it is naturally found in soil.


  • Mostly, Tin is used in electric circuits.
  • It is mixed with bronze to create a special metal which is used for making bells.
  • Tributyltin is made from Tin which is used in making antifouling paint used on ships.
  • Tin cans are made for the preservation of food.
  • It alloys with other metals.
  • Tin oxide is used in glass wares.
  • Tin is mostly used in organic compounds which are harmful for human. It is used in paints and industries and can cause tin poisoning.
  • The Tin bonds can have various affects including eye and skin irritations, headaches, stomachaches, dizziness, sweating and suffocation.
  • Long-term effects include: depressions, malfunctioning of immune systems and brain damage.
  • Organic Tins can spread through water as well which cause huge problems for aquatic life. They are toxic to fungi and phytoplankton which is a source of providing oxygen to marine life.

We cannot stop its exposure because its naturally found in the environment. The only thing we can do is avoid eating canned food.

Source by John Farnon

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