13th Century C.E.
Unknown, but in India
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 (zinc silicate) and zincite (zinc oxide). Other zinc-bearing minerals include willemite and hydrozincite. Zinc ore is mined in Canada, Australia, the USA, China, Peru.