The Element Tin

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Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn from the Latin word “stannum.” Its atomic number is 50 and its atomic mass is 118.71. Tin is classified in the 'Other Metals' section which can be located in groups 13, 14, and 15 of the Periodic Table. All of these elements are solid, have a relatively high density and are opaque. This silvery, ductile metal is not easily oxidized in air and resists corrosion. Tin is usually malleable, but when cooled it is very brittle. It is found in many alloys and is used to coat other metals. It can be alloyed with copper to make bronze. Pewter alloys contain about 85% to 99% tin. Tin is obtained from the mineral ore cassiterite, where it occurs as an oxide. It is extracted by roasting cassiterite in a furnace with carbon. Tin makes up only about 0.001% of the earth's crust and is chiefly mined in Malaysia and found in Bolivia, Indonesia, Thailand, and Nigeria. Tin was discovered by the ancients nearly 5500 years ago and was mentioned in the Old Testament. It is one of the earliest metals known and they think it was first mined in South-East England. Because of its hardening effect on copper, tin was used in bronze implements as early as 3,500 BC.

Tin is used in industries to form many useful alloys and as a coating for steel cans. Tin cans contain a thin coating of tin to inhibit rust. The small amount of tin found in canned foods is quite harmless. Tin used to be used to make tin foil, but it is now exclusively made of aluminum. The agreed limit of tin content in U.S. foods is 300 mg/kg. The trialkyl and triaryl tin compounds must be handled carefully. Alloys of tin are very important including: soft solder, type metal, fusible metal, pewter, bronze, bell metal, Babbitt metal, White metal, die casting alloy, and phosphor bronze.

Tin is the perfect metal for casting toy soldiers. It melts at a fairly low temperature, so you can use simple molds, even molds made of special rubber. It is non-toxic, unlike...
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