One of the most amazing facts about tin is its usage since ancient times. There is evidence that Stone Age men used it 3,500 years ago. How the ancients discovered it is still a mystery.
Discovery and History of Tin
During the Late Stone Age people learned to put tin and copper together to produce bronze. Bronze was much easier to manipulate than copper and its use became widespread. This discovery ushered in the Bronze Age, which influenced the Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Indus Valley civilizations.
Everything from weapons to utilities were fashioned from these materials. One of the oldest tin mining sites is in the Taurus Mountains in Turkey. An assessment of the facts about tin will show that usage of tin as a pure metal didn’t start until 600 BC.
Tin was used heavily during the Medieval Ages, with Cornwall being
one of the leading producers. Tin were also discovered and used in Asia. China, Laos and Indonesia were among the countries that also utilized the element. By 1931, the International Tin Committee was set up to regulate the burgeoning market.
Uses and Applications
During ancient times it was used to make bronze (bronze being an alloy of copper and 5% tin). Around 600 BC, tin was combined with copper (90% tin, the rest copper) to make pewter. Pewter was utilized for flatware. This continued well into the 20th century.
A study of facts about tin will show that today it is used in soldering.
It is also used in making steel more resistant to corrosion. Along with aluminum foil, it is used to package foods. Combined with iron, tin can be used to prevent zinc corrosion. Window glass is created from floating molten glass with molten tin.
Metal pipe organs also have elements of tin in them. Tin is very resonant so its presence affects the instrument’s sounds. Before aluminum foil came into widespread use, tin was the most common form of food packaging.
Tin produces no known ill effects on humans. One fact about tin plated food cans is that they can corrode. Corrosion could lead to intoxication. This corrosion is usually caused by acidic foods. Studies have shown that nausea and vomiting have been induced by consuming food with 200 mg/kg of tin.
Tin needs to be extracted from cassiterite. It can be found in other sulfides like teallite and franckeite. But for commercial purposes, extracting from cassiterite remains the most viable option.
There are many ways to obtain tin. The most common is the dredging. Another popular choice is open cast mining. The use of tin is still increasing.
China has the biggest reserve of tin with over 1.7 million tons. Malaysia is next with 1 million tons followed by Peru with over 700,000. Other countries with tin reserves are Brazil, Bolivia, Russia and Thailand. In 2009, deposits were found in Colombia.
The facts about tin’s long history show just how useful the element has been. In spite of the emergence of other materials, doubtless it will continue to be used in many applications in the foreseeable future.