30Zn Zinc

Year Discovered

13th Century C.E.

Discovered By

Unknown, but in India

Biological Rating

Necessary for all life.


The meaning is unknown, but its origin is German. Zinc is a lustrous, bluish-white metal. It is brittle at room temperature, but becomes malleable when heated to 100 degrees Celsius. It is mildly reactive with air, acids and alkalis. Zinc is a very useful metal, and used to plate iron, and protect it from corrosion, in a process known as galvanization. Zinc also is used in many other alloys, such as brass and solder. An alloy of zinc and aluminum is nearly as strong as steel and as easy to mold as plastic. Compounds of zinc are used in batteries, tires, cement, paint, rubber, cosmetics, plastics, printing inks, soap, textiles, fluorescent lights, luminous dials, and TV screens. Calamine lotion contains zinc. Many coins contain zinc. The U.S. penny is mostly zinc with a bronze plating.

Role in Life Processes

Critical for life processes in plants and animals.

Percentage Amount in the Human Body: 0.003%


Zinc is mined from several different minerals, including sphalerite (zinc sulfide), smithsonite (zinc carbonate), hemimorphite and zincite. Other zinc-bearing minerals include calamine and willemite. It is mined in Canada, Australia, the USA, China, Peru.