Periodic Table -> Tin


Tin Details

Tin Symbol: Sn

Tin Atomic Number: 50

Tin Atomic Weight: 118.710

What is Tin?

Tin (atomic number 50, symbol Sn) is a metal and chemical element which is known since ancient times. Copper and tin were combined to produce bronze as early as 3000 BC.

Properties and Isotopes
Tin is ductile, malleable, and silvery-white in color and occurs in two allotropic forms. The element is pliable and soft and reacts with acid salts, alkalis, and strong acids. Tin has good corrosion resistance and is used as a catalyst. It has a boiling point of (4118 F) 2270 C and melting point of 450 F (232 C). There are 20 isotopes and 10 of them are stable. The element has a diamond cubic structure and forms different compounds, including organotin compounds, hydrides, and inorganic compounds such as tin tetraiodide, tin tetrabromide, and other halide compounds. Tin is solid at room temperature. The two oxidation states are + 4 and +2.

Commercial Applications and Alloys
Gray tin has few commercial applications. Tin, however, is widely used because the element is not affected by bases, acids, water, oxygen, and air. The element forms alloys that have various commercial applications and is used as solder for dental amalgams, joining electric circuits and pipes, babbitt metal, bell metal, and pewter. Babbitt metal contains different metals, including tin, lead, cadmium, and arsenic. This is an alloy that is used to make industrial equipment. Tin oxide is a compound that is used in gas sensors and the ceramic industry. Tin is also used to produce electronic equipment such as smartphones, tablets, iPads, and others. Solder and pewter are produced by combining lead and tin. Superconductive wires are manufactured by alloying niobium and tin.
Specialized alloys also contain tin combined with zirconium, lead, and copper. Alloys made from lead and tin, for example, are used in pipe organs. Other alloys such as bronze are used to make valves, water gauges, electrical devices, wires, and springs.

Occurrence and Production
The element can be extracted from different sulfides, including teallite, canfieldite, franckeite, cylindrite, tannite, and others. The major mining sites are found in countries such as Indonesia, Malaya, Laos, Thailand, and China. The East Asian and Bolivian tin belt are rich in deposits. The major producers include Peru, Indonesia, Bolivia, Congo, Russia, Belgium, Thailand, and others. Indonesia is the world’s largest tin producer by volume. Given that tin is mined and available commercially, it is rarely produced in lab settings.

Exposure and Health Hazards
Exposure can lead to shortness of breath, severe sweating, and dizziness. Other side effects include stomach aches, headaches, and skin and eye irritation. Long-term exposure results in brain damage, weak immune system, liver damage, depression, sleeping disorders, and chromosomal damage. Organic tin pollutes the environment and is toxic to phytoplankton, fungi, fish, and other species. Exposure affects reproduction and growth. One problem with tin is that it is not easily biodegradable and can take a long time. It is found in water systems and soils and remains there for decades.

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