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Tin, 50Sn
Allotropes silvery-white, β (beta); gray, α (alpha)
Standard atomic weight Ar°(Sn)
  • 118.710±0.007
  • 118.71±0.01 (abridged) [1]
Tin in the periodic table
Hydrogen Helium
Lithium Beryllium Boron Carbon Nitrogen Oxygen Fluorine Neon
Sodium Magnesium Aluminium Silicon Phosphorus Sulfur Chlorine Argon
Potassium Calcium Scandium Titanium Vanadium Chromium Manganese Iron Cobalt Nickel Copper Zinc Gallium Germanium Arsenic Selenium Bromine Krypton
Rubidium Strontium Yttrium Zirconium Niobium Molybdenum Technetium Ruthenium Rhodium Palladium Silver Cadmium Indium Tin Antimony Tellurium Iodine Xenon
Caesium Barium Lanthanum Cerium Praseodymium Neodymium Promethium Samarium Europium Gadolinium Terbium Dysprosium Holmium Erbium Thulium Ytterbium Lutetium Hafnium Tantalum Tungsten Rhenium Osmium Iridium Platinum Gold Mercury (element) Thallium Lead Bismuth Polonium Astatine Radon
Francium Radium Actinium Thorium Protactinium Uranium Neptunium Plutonium Americium Curium Berkelium Californium Einsteinium Fermium Mendelevium Nobelium Lawrencium Rutherfordium Dubnium Seaborgium Bohrium Hassium Meitnerium Darmstadtium Roentgenium Copernicium Nihonium Flerovium Moscovium Livermorium Tennessine Oganesson


Atomic number (Z)50
Group group 14 (carbon group)
Period period 5
Block   p-block
Electron configuration [ Kr ] 4d10 5s2 5p2
Electrons per shell2, 8, 18, 18, 4
Physical properties
Phase at  STP solid
Melting point 505.08  K (231.93 °C,449.47 °F)
Boiling point 2875 K(2602 °C,4716 °F)
Density (near r.t.)white, β: 7.265 g/cm3
gray, α: 5.769 g/cm3
when liquid (at m.p.)6.99 g/cm3
Heat of fusion white, β: 7.03  kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization white, β: 296.1 kJ/mol
Molar heat capacity white, β: 27.112 J/(mol·K)
Vapor pressure
P (Pa)1101001 k10 k100 k
at T (K)149716571855210724382893
Atomic properties
Oxidation states −4, −3, −2, −1, 0, [2] +1, [3] +2, +3, [4] +4 (an  amphoteric oxide)
Electronegativity Pauling scale: 1.96
Ionization energies
  • 1st: 708.6 kJ/mol
  • 2nd: 1411.8 kJ/mol
  • 3rd: 2943.0 kJ/mol
Atomic radius empirical:140  pm
Covalent radius 139±4 pm
Van der Waals radius 217 pm
Tin spectrum visible.png
Spectral lines of tin
Other properties
Natural occurrence primordial
Crystal structure body-centered tetragonal

white (β)
Crystal structure face-centered diamond-cubic
Diamond cubic crystal structure.svg

gray (α)
Speed of sound thin rod2730 m/s(at r.t.)(rolled)
Thermal expansion 22.0 µm/(m⋅K)(at 25 °C)
Thermal conductivity 66.8 W/(m⋅K)
Electrical resistivity 115 nΩ⋅m(at 0 °C)
Magnetic ordering gray: diamagnetic [5]
white (β): paramagnetic
Molar magnetic susceptibility (white) +3.1×10−6 cm3/mol(298 K) [6]
Young's modulus 50 GPa
Shear modulus 18 GPa
Bulk modulus 58 GPa
Poisson ratio 0.36
Mohs hardness 1.5
Brinell hardness 50–440 MPa
CAS Number 7440-31-5
Discovery protohistoric, around 35th century BC
Symbol"Sn": from Latin stannum
Main isotopes of tin
Iso­tope Decay
abun­dance half-life (t1/2) mode pro­duct
112Sn0.97% stable
126Sn trace 2.3×105 y β 126Sb
Symbol category class.svg  Category: Tin
| references

Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn (from Latin : stannum ) and atomic number  50. Tin is a silvery-coloured metal.


Tin is soft enough to be cut with little force [7] and a bar of tin can be bent by hand with little effort. When bent, the so-called "tin cry" can be heard as a result of twinning in tin crystals; [8] this trait is shared by indium, cadmium, zinc, and mercury in the solid state.

Pure tin after solidifying presents a mirror-like appearance similar to most metals. In most tin alloys (such as pewter) the metal solidifies with a dull gray color.

Tin is a post-transition metal in group 14 of the periodic table of elements. It is obtained chiefly from the mineral cassiterite, which contains stannic oxide, SnO
. Tin shows a chemical similarity to both of its neighbors in group 14, germanium and lead, and has two main oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4. Tin is the 49th most abundant element on Earth and has, with 10 stable isotopes, the largest number of stable isotopes in the periodic table, thanks to its magic number of protons.

It has two main allotropes: at room temperature, the stable allotrope is β-tin, a silvery-white, malleable metal; at low temperatures it is less dense grey α-tin, which has the diamond cubic structure. Metallic tin does not easily oxidize in air and water.

The first tin alloy used on a large scale was bronze, made of 18 tin and 78  copper, from as early as 3000 BC. After 600 BC, pure metallic tin was produced. Pewter, which is an alloy of 85–90% tin with the remainder commonly consisting of copper, antimony, bismuth, and sometimes lead and silver, has been used for flatware since the Bronze Age. In modern times, tin is used in many alloys, most notably tin / lead soft solders, which are typically 60% or more tin, and in the manufacture of transparent, electrically conducting films of indium tin oxide in optoelectronic applications. Another large application is corrosion-resistant tin plating of steel. Because of the low toxicity of inorganic tin, tin-plated steel is widely used for food packaging as tin cans. Some organotin compounds can be extremely toxic.



Droplet of solidified molten tin Tin-2.jpg
Droplet of solidified molten tin

Tin is a soft, malleable, ductile and highly crystalline silvery-white metal. When a bar of tin is bent a crackling sound known as the "tin cry" can be heard from the twinning of the crystals. [8] Tin melts at about 232 °C (450 °F) the lowest in group 14. The melting point is further lowered to 177.3 °C (351.1 °F) for 11 nm particles. [9] [10]

External video
Nuvola apps kaboodle.svg β–α transition of tin at −40 °C (time lapse; one second of the video is one hour in real time

β-tin, the metallic form or white tin, has BCT structure and is stable at and above room temperature and is malleable. α-tin, the nonmetallic form or gray tin, is stable below 13.2 °C (55.8 °F) and is brittle. α-tin has a diamond cubic crystal structure, similar to diamond, silicon or germanium. α-tin has no metallic properties, because its atoms form a covalent structure in which electrons cannot move freely. α-tin is a dull-gray powdery material with no common uses other than specialized semiconductor applications. [8] γ-tin and σ-tin exist at temperatures above 161 °C (322 °F)  and pressures above several GPa. [11]

In cold conditions β-tin tends to transform spontaneously into α-tin, a phenomenon known as "tin pest" or "tin disease". [12] Some unverifiable sources also say that, during Napoleon's Russian campaign of 1812, the temperatures became so cold that the tin buttons on the soldiers' uniforms disintegrated over time, contributing to the defeat of the Grande Armée, [13] a persistent legend. [14] [15] [16]

The α-β transformation temperature is 13.2 °C (55.8 °F), but impurities (e.g. Al, Zn, etc.) lower it well below 0 °C (32 °F). With the addition of antimony or bismuth the transformation might not occur at all, increasing durability. [17]

Commercial grades of tin (99.8% tin content) resist transformation because of the inhibiting effect of small amounts of bismuth, antimony, lead, and silver present as impurities. Alloying elements such as copper, antimony, bismuth, cadmium, and silver increase the hardness of tin. [18] Tin easily forms hard, brittle intermetallic phases that are typically undesirable. It does not mix into a solution with most metals and elements so tin does not have much solid solubility. Tin mixes well with bismuth, gallium, lead, thallium and zinc forming simple eutectic systems. [17]

Tin becomes a superconductor below 3.72  K [19] and was one of the first superconductors to be studied. [20] The Meissner effect, one of the characteristic features of superconductors, was first discovered in superconducting tin crystals. [20]


Tin resists corrosion from water, but can be corroded by acids and alkalis. Tin can be highly polished and is used as a protective coat for other metals, [8] a protective oxide (passivation) layer prevents further oxidation. [21] Tin acts as a catalyst triggering a chemical reaction of a solution containing oxygen and helps to increase the speed of the chemical reaction that results. [22]


Tin has ten stable isotopes, the greatest number of any element. The isotopes of tin have atomic masses of 112, 114, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 120, 122, and 124. 120Sn makes up almost a third of all tin; 118Sn, and 116Sn are also common, while 115Sn is the least common stable isotope. The isotopes with even mass numbers have no nuclear spin, while those with odd mass numbers have a spin of 1/2. Tin is among the easiest elements to detect and analyze by NMR spectroscopy which relies on molecular weight and its chemical shifts are referenced against SnMe
. [notes 1] [23] The large number of stable isotopes is thought to be a direct result of tin having the atomic number 50, a "magic number" in nuclear physics. Of the stable isotopes Tin-115 has a high capture cross section for fast neutron energies at 30 Barns. Two other isotopes Tin-117 ranks next with a cross section of 2.3 Barn while isotope Tin-119 has a slightly smaller cross section of 2.2 Barn. [24] Before these cross sections were well known it was proposed to use Tin-Lead solder as a reactor coolant for fast reactors because of its low melting point. Current studies are for Lead or Lead-Bismuth reactor coolants because both heavy metals are nearly transparent to fast neutrons with very low capture cross sections. [25] In order to use a Tin or Tin-Lead coolant the Tin would first have to go through isotopes separation to remove the 115, 117 and 119 isotopes from the material. Combined these three isotopes make up about 17% of the entire mass of natural Tin but represent nearly all of the capture cross section. Of the remaining seven isotopes Tin-112 has a capture cross section of 1 Barn. The other six isotopes forming 82.7% of all Tin have capture cross sections of 0.3 Barn or less making them effectively transparent to neutrons like Lead and Bismuth.

Tin has 31 unstable isotopes, ranging in mass number from 99 to 139. The unstable tin isotopes have a half-life of less than a year except 126Sn which has a half-life of 230,000 years. 100Sn and 132Sn are two of the few nuclides with a "doubly magic" nucleus which despite being unstable, as they have very uneven neutron–proton ratios, are the endpoints beyond which tin isotopes lighter than 100Sn and heavier than 132Sn are much less stable. [26] Another 30 metastable isomers have been identified for tin isotopes between 111 and 131, the most stable being 121mSn, with a half-life of 43.9 years. [27]

The relative differences in the number of tin's stable isotopes can be explained by how they are formed during stellar nucleosynthesis. 116Sn through 120Sn are formed in the s-process (slow neutron capture) in most stars which leads to them being the most common tin isotopes, while 122Sn and 124Sn are only formed in the r-process (rapid neutron capture) in supernovae and are less common. Tin isotopes 117Sn through 120Sn are also produced in the r-process.[ citation needed ]112Sn, 114Sn, and 115Sn, cannot be made in significant amounts in the s- or r-processes and are among the p-nuclei whose origins are not well understood. Some ideas about for their formation include proton capture and photodisintegration, 115Sn might be partially produced in the s-process both directly and as the daughter of long-lived 115In. [28]


The word tin is shared among Germanic languages and can be traced back to reconstructed Proto-Germanic *tin-om; cognates include German Zinn, Swedish tenn and Dutch tin. It is not found in other branches of Indo-European, except by borrowing from Germanic (e.g., Irish tinne from English). [29] [30]

The Latin name for tin, stannum, originally meant an alloy of silver and lead, and came to mean 'tin' in the fourth century [31] —the earlier Latin word for it was plumbum candidum, or "white lead". Stannum apparently came from an earlier stāgnum (meaning the same substance), [29] the origin of the Romance and Celtic terms for tin, such as French étain, Spanish estaño, Italian stagno, and Irish stán. [29] [32] The origin of stannum/stāgnum is unknown; it may be pre-Indo-European. [33]

The Meyers Konversations-Lexikon suggests instead that stannum came from Cornish stean, and is evidence that Cornwall in the first centuries AD was the main source of tin.[ citation needed ]


Ceremonial giant bronze dirk of the Plougrescant-Ommerschans type, Plougrescant, France, 1500-1300 BC. Sword bronze age (2nd version).jpg
Ceremonial giant bronze dirk of the Plougrescant-Ommerschans type, Plougrescant, France, 1500–1300 BC.

Tin extraction and use can be dated to the beginnings of the Bronze Age around 3000 BC, when it was observed that copper objects formed of polymetallic ores with different metal contents had different physical properties. [34] The earliest bronze objects had a tin or arsenic content of less than 2% and are believed to be the result of unintentional alloying due to trace metal content in the copper ore. [35] The addition of a second metal to copper increases its hardness, lowers the melting temperature, and improves the casting process by producing a more fluid melt that cools to a denser, less spongy metal. [35] This was an important innovation that allowed for the much more complex shapes cast in closed molds of the Bronze Age. Arsenical bronze objects appear first in the Near East where arsenic is commonly found with copper ore, but the health risks were quickly realized and the quest for sources of the much less hazardous tin ores began early in the Bronze Age. [36] This created the demand for rare tin metal and formed a trade network that linked the distant sources of tin to the markets of Bronze Age cultures.[ citation needed ]

Cassiterite (SnO
), the oxide form of tin, was most likely the original source of tin. Other tin ores are less common sulfides such as stannite that require a more involved smelting process. Cassiterite often accumulates in alluvial channels as placer deposits because it is harder, heavier, and more chemically resistant than the accompanying granite. [35] Cassiterite is usually black or dark in color, and these deposits can be easily seen in river banks. Alluvial (placer) deposits may incidentally have been collected and separated by methods similar to gold panning. [37]

Compounds and chemistry

In the great majority of its compounds, tin has the oxidation state II or IV. Compounds containing bivalent tin are called stannous while those containing tetravalent tin are termed stannic .

Inorganic compounds

Halide compounds are known for both oxidation states. For Sn(IV), all four halides are well known: SnF4, SnCl4, SnBr4, and SnI4. The three heavier members are volatile molecular compounds, whereas the tetrafluoride is polymeric. All four halides are known for Sn(II) also: SnF2, SnCl
, SnBr2, and SnI2. All are polymeric solids. Of these eight compounds, only the iodides are colored. [38]

Tin(II) chloride (also known as stannous chloride) is the most important commercial tin halide. Illustrating the routes to such compounds, chlorine reacts with tin metal to give SnCl4 whereas the reaction of hydrochloric acid and tin produces SnCl
and hydrogen gas. Alternatively SnCl4 and Sn combine to stannous chloride by a process called comproportionation: [39]

SnCl4 + Sn → 2 SnCl

Tin can form many oxides, sulfides, and other chalcogenide derivatives. The dioxide SnO
(cassiterite) forms when tin is heated in the presence of air. [38] Sn)
is amphoteric, which means that it dissolves in both acidic and basic solutions. [40] Stannates with the structure [Sn(OH)
]2−, like K
], are also known, though the free stannic acid H
] is unknown.

Sulfides of tin exist in both the +2 and +4 oxidation states: tin(II) sulfide and tin(IV) sulfide (mosaic gold).

Ball-and-stick models of the structure of solid stannous chloride (SnCl
2). Tin(II)-chloride-xtal-1996-3D-balls-front.png
Ball-and-stick models of the structure of solid stannous chloride (SnCl


Stannane (SnH
), with tin in the +4 oxidation state, is unstable. Organotin hydrides are however well known, e.g. tributyltin hydride (Sn(C4H9)3H). [8] These compound release transient tributyl tin radicals, which are rare examples of compounds of tin(III). [42]

Organotin compounds

Organotin compounds, sometimes called stannanes, are chemical compounds with tin–carbon bonds. [43] Of the tin compounds, the organic derivatives are commercially the most useful. [44] Some organotin compounds are highly toxic and have been used as biocides. The first organotin compound to be reported was diethyltin diiodide ((C2H5)2SnI2), reported by Edward Frankland in 1849. [45]

Most organotin compounds are colorless liquids or solids that are stable to air and water. They adopt tetrahedral geometry. Tetraalkyl- and tetraaryltin compounds can be prepared using Grignard reagents: [44]

+ 4 RMgBr → R
+ 4 MgBrCl

The mixed halide-alkyls, which are more common and more important commercially than the tetraorgano derivatives, are prepared by redistribution reactions:

+ R
→ 2 SnCl

Divalent organotin compounds are uncommon, although more common than related divalent organogermanium and organosilicon compounds. The greater stabilization enjoyed by Sn(II) is attributed to the "inert pair effect". Organotin(II) compounds include both stannylenes (formula: R2Sn, as seen for singlet carbenes) and distannylenes (R4Sn2), which are roughly equivalent to alkenes. Both classes exhibit unusual reactions. [46]


Sample of cassiterite, the main ore of tin Cassiterite09.jpg
Sample of cassiterite, the main ore of tin

Tin is generated via the long s-process in low-to-medium mass stars (with masses of 0.6 to 10 times that of the Sun), and finally by beta decay of the heavy isotopes of indium. [47]

Tin is the 49th most abundant element in Earth's crust, representing 2  ppm compared with 75 ppm for zinc, 50 ppm for copper, and 14 ppm for lead. [48]

Tin does not occur as the native element but must be extracted from various ores. Cassiterite (SnO
) is the only commercially important source of tin, although small quantities of tin are recovered from complex sulfides such as stannite, cylindrite, franckeite, canfieldite, and teallite. Minerals with tin are almost always associated with granite rock, usually at a level of 1% tin oxide content. [49]

Because of the higher specific gravity of tin dioxide, about 80% of mined tin is from secondary deposits found downstream from the primary lodes. Tin is often recovered from granules washed downstream in the past and deposited in valleys or the sea. The most economical ways of mining tin are by dredging, hydraulicking, or open pits. Most of the world's tin is produced from placer deposits, which can contain as little as 0.015% tin. [50]

World tin mine reserves (tonnes, 2011) [51]
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China 1,500,000
Flag of Malaysia.svg  Malaysia 250,000
Flag of Peru.svg  Peru 310,000
Flag of Indonesia.svg  Indonesia 800,000
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil 590,000
Bandera de Bolivia (Estado).svg  Bolivia 400,000
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 350,000
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 180,000
Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand 170,000
Economically recoverable tin reserves [49]
YearMillion tonnes
20007,100 [51]
20105,200 [51]

About 253,000 tonnes of tin were mined in 2011, mostly in China (110,000 t), Indonesia (51,000 t), Peru (34,600 t), Bolivia (20,700 t) and Brazil (12,000 t). [51] Estimates of tin production have historically varied with the market and mining technology. It is estimated that, at current consumption rates and technologies, the Earth will run out of mine-able tin in 40 years. [52] In 2006 Lester Brown suggested tin could run out within 20 years based on conservative estimates of 2% annual growth. [53]

Scrap tin is an important source of the metal. Recovery of tin through recycling is increasing rapidly. Whereas the United States has neither mined (since 1993) nor smelted (since 1989) tin, it was the largest secondary producer, recycling nearly 14,000 tonnes in 2006. [51]

New deposits are reported in Mongolia, [54] and in 2009, new deposits of tin were discovered in Colombia. [55]


Tin is produced by carbothermic reduction of the oxide ore with carbon or coke. Both reverberatory furnace and electric furnace can be used. [56] [57] [58]

Mining and smelting


The ten largest companies produced most of the world's tin in 2007.

Most of the world's tin is traded on LME, from 8 countries, under 17 brands. [59]

Largest tin producing companies (tonnes) [60]
CompanyPolity200620072017 [61] 2006-2017
% change
Yunnan Tin China52,33961,12974,50042.3
PT TimahIndonesia44,68958,32530,200-32.4
Malaysia Smelting CorpMalaysia22,85025,47127,20019.0
Yunnan ChengfengChina21,76518,00026,80023.1
Minsur Peru40,97735,94018,000-56.1
EM VintoBolivia11,8049,44812,6006.7
Guangxi China TinChina//11,500/
Metallo-Chimique Belgium8,0498,3729,70020.5
Gejiu Zi LiChina//8,700/

International Tin Council was established in 1947 to control the price of tin. It collapsed in 1985. In 1984, Association of Tin Producing Countries was created, with Australia, Bolivia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Thailand, and Zaire as members. [62]

Price and exchanges

World production and price (US exchange) of tin. SnPrice.png
World production and price (US exchange) of tin.

Tin is unique among mineral commodities because of the complex agreements between producer countries and consumer countries dating back to 1921. Earlier agreements tended to be somewhat informal and led to the "First International Tin Agreement" in 1956, the first of a series that effectively collapsed in 1985. Through these agreements, the International Tin Council (ITC) had a considerable effect on tin prices. ITC supported the price of tin during periods of low prices by buying tin for its buffer stockpile and was able to restrain the price during periods of high prices by selling from the stockpile. This was an anti-free-market approach, designed to assure a sufficient flow of tin to consumer countries and a profit for producer countries. However, the buffer stockpile was not sufficiently large, and during most of those 29 years tin prices rose, sometimes sharply, especially from 1973 through 1980 when rampant inflation plagued many world economies. [63]

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the U.S. reduced its strategic tin stockpile, partly to take advantage of historically high tin prices. The 1981–82 recession damaged the tin industry. Tin consumption declined dramatically. ITC was able to avoid truly steep declines through accelerated buying for its buffer stockpile; this activity required extensive borrowing. ITC continued to borrow until late 1985 when it reached its credit limit. Immediately, a major "tin crisis" ensued — tin was delisted from trading on the London Metal Exchange for about three years. ITC dissolved soon afterward, and the price of tin, now in a free-market environment, fell to $4 per pound and remained around that level through the 1990s. [63] The price increased again by 2010 with a rebound in consumption following the 2007–2008 economic crisis, accompanying restocking and continued growth in consumption. [51]

Tin Prices 2008-2022

See also: 2020s commodities boom Tin Prices.webp
Tin Prices 2008-2022

London Metal Exchange (LME) is tin's principal trading site. [51] Other tin contract markets are Kuala Lumpur Tin Market (KLTM) and Indonesia Tin Exchange (INATIN). [64]

Due to factors involved in the 2021 global supply chain crisis, tin prices almost doubled between 2020—21 and have had their largest annual rise in over 30 years. The International Tin Association estimated that global refined tin consumption will grow 7.2 percent in 2021, after losing 1.6 percent in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted global manufacturing industries. [65]


World consumption of refined tin by end-use, 2006 TinConsChart.jpg
World consumption of refined tin by end-use, 2006

In 2018, just under half of all tin produced was used in solder. The rest was divided between tin plating, tin chemicals, brass and bronze alloys, and niche uses. [66]


A coil of lead-free solder wire Ex Lead freesolder.jpg
A coil of lead-free solder wire

Tin has long been used in alloys with lead as solder, in amounts of 5 to 70% w/w. Tin with lead forms a eutectic mixture at the weight proportion of 61.9% tin and 38.1% lead (the atomic proportion: 73.9% tin and 26.1% lead), with melting temperature of 183 °C (361.4 °F). Such solders are primarily used for joining pipes or electric circuits. Since the European Union Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive) and Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive came into effect on 1 July 2006, the lead content in such alloys has decreased. While lead exposure is associated with serious health problems, lead-free solder is not without its challenges, including a higher melting point, and the formation of tin whiskers that cause electrical problems. Tin pest can occur in lead-free solders, leading to loss of the soldered joint. Replacement alloys are being found, but the problems of joint integrity remain. [67]

Tin plating

Tin plated metal from a can. Inside of a tin platted can.jpg
Tin plated metal from a can.

Tin bonds readily to iron and is used for coating lead, zinc, and steel to prevent corrosion. Tin-plated (or tinning) steel containers is widely used for food preservation, and this forms a large part of the market for metallic tin. A tinplate canister for preserving food was first manufactured in London in 1812. [68] Speakers of British English call such containers "tins", while speakers of U.S. English call them "cans" or "tin cans". One derivation of such use is the slang term "tinnie" or "tinny", meaning "can of beer" in Australia. The tin whistle is so called because it was mass-produced first in tin-plated steel. [69] [70]

Copper cooking vessels such as saucepans and frying pans are frequently lined with a thin plating of tin, by electroplating or by traditional chemical methods, since use of copper cookware with acidic foods can be toxic.

Specialized alloys

Pewter plate Pewterplate exb.jpg
Pewter plate
Artisans working with tin sheets. Alfonso Santiago Leyva and his son Tomas working.jpg
Artisans working with tin sheets.

Tin in combination with other elements forms a wide variety of useful alloys. Tin is most commonly alloyed with copper. Pewter is 85–99% tin; [71] bearing metal has a high percentage of tin as well. [72] [73] Bronze is mostly copper with 12% tin, while the addition of phosphorus yields phosphor bronze. Bell metal is also a copper–tin alloy, containing 22% tin. Tin has sometimes been used in coinage; it once formed a single-digit percentage (usually five percent or less) of American [74] and Canadian [75] pennies. Because copper is often the major metal in such coins, sometimes including zinc, these could be called bronze, or brass alloys.

The niobium–tin compound Nb3Sn is commercially used in coils of superconducting magnets for its high critical temperature (18 K) and critical magnetic field (25  T). A superconducting magnet weighing as little as two kilograms is capable of producing the magnetic field of a conventional electromagnet weighing tons. [76]

A small percentage of tin is added to zirconium alloys for the cladding of nuclear fuel. [77]

Most metal pipes in a pipe organ are of a tin/lead alloy, with 50/50 as the most common composition. The proportion of tin in the pipe defines the pipe's tone, since tin has a desirable tonal resonance. When a tin/lead alloy cools, the lead phase solidifies first, then when the eutectic temperature is reached, the remaining liquid forms the layered tin/lead eutectic structure, which is shiny; contrast with the lead phase produces a mottled or spotted effect. This metal alloy is referred to as spotted metal. Major advantages of using tin for pipes include its appearance, workability, and resistance to corrosion. [78] [79]


The oxides of indium and tin are electrically conductive and transparent, and are used to make transparent electrically conducting films with applications in optoelectronics devices such as liquid crystal displays. [80]

Other applications

A 21st-century reproduction barn lantern made of punched tin. Punched tin barn lantern.jpeg
A 21st-century reproduction barn lantern made of punched tin.

Punched tin-plated steel, also called pierced tin, is an artisan technique originating in central Europe for creating functional and decorative housewares. Decorative piercing designs exist in a wide variety, based on local tradition and the artisan. Punched tin lanterns are the most common application of this artisan technique. The light of a candle shining through the pierced design creates a decorative light pattern in the room where it sits. Lanterns and other punched tin articles were created in the New World from the earliest European settlement. A well-known example is the Revere lantern, named after Paul Revere. [81]

Before the modern era, in some areas of the Alps, a goat or sheep's horn would be sharpened and a tin panel would be punched out using the alphabet and numbers from one to nine. This learning tool was known appropriately as "the horn". Modern reproductions are decorated with such motifs as hearts and tulips.

In America, pie safes and food safes were in use in the days before refrigeration. These were wooden cupboards of various styles and sizes – either floor standing or hanging cupboards meant to discourage vermin and insects and to keep dust from perishable foodstuffs. These cabinets had tinplate inserts in the doors and sometimes in the sides, punched out by the homeowner, cabinetmaker, or a tinsmith in varying designs to allow for air circulation while excluding flies. Modern reproductions of these articles remain popular in North America. [82]

Window glass is most often made by floating molten glass on molten tin (float glass), resulting in a flat and flawless surface. This is also called the "Pilkington process". [83]

Tin is used as a negative electrode in advanced Li-ion batteries. Its application is somewhat limited by the fact that some tin surfaces[ which? ] catalyze decomposition of carbonate-based electrolytes used in Li-ion batteries. [84]

Tin(II) fluoride is added to some dental care products [85] as stannous fluoride (SnF2). Tin(II) fluoride can be mixed with calcium abrasives while the more common sodium fluoride gradually becomes biologically inactive in the presence of calcium compounds. [86] It has also been shown to be more effective than sodium fluoride in controlling gingivitis. [87]

Tin is used as a target to create laser-induced plasmas that act as the light source for extreme ultraviolet lithography.

Organotin compounds

The organotin compounds are most heavily used. Worldwide industrial production probably exceeds 50,000 tonnes. [88]

PVC stabilizers

The major commercial application of organotin compounds is in the stabilization of PVC plastics. In the absence of such stabilizers, PVC would rapidly degrade under heat, light, and atmospheric oxygen, resulting in discolored, brittle products. Tin scavenges labile chloride ions (Cl), which would otherwise strip HCl from the plastic material. [89] Typical tin compounds are carboxylic acid derivatives of dibutyltin dichloride, such as the dilaurate. [90]


Some organotin compounds are relatively toxic, with both advantages and problems. They are used for biocidal properties as fungicides, pesticides, algaecides, wood preservatives, and antifouling agents. [89] Tributyltin oxide is used as a wood preservative. [91] Tributyltin is also used for various industrial purposes such as slime control in paper mills and disinfection of circulating industrial cooling waters. [92] Tributyltin was used as additive for ship paint to prevent growth of fouling organisms on ships, with use declining after organotin compounds were recognized as persistent organic pollutants with high toxicity for some marine organisms (the dog whelk, for example). [93] The EU banned the use of organotin compounds in 2003, [94] while concerns over the toxicity of these compounds to marine life and damage to the reproduction and growth of some marine species [89] (some reports describe biological effects to marine life at a concentration of 1 nanogram per liter) have led to a worldwide ban by the International Maritime Organization. [95] Many nations now restrict the use of organotin compounds to vessels greater than 25 m (82 ft) long. [89] The persistence of tributyltin in the aquatic environment is dependent upon the nature of the ecosystem. [96] Because of this persistence and its use as an additive in ship paint, high concentrations of tributyltin have been found in marine sediments located near naval docks. [97] Tributyltin has been used as a biomarker for imposex in neograstropods, with at least 82 known species. [98] With the high levels of TBT in the local inshore areas, due to shipping activities, the shellfish had an adverse effect. [96] Imposex is the imposition of male sexual characteristics on female specimens where they grow a penis and a pallial vas deferens. [98] [99] A high level of TBT can damage mammalian endocrine glands, reproductive and central nervous systems, bone structure and gastrointestinal tract. [99] Not only does tributyltin affect mammals, it affects sea otters, whales, dolphins, and humans. [99]

Organic chemistry

Some tin reagents are useful in organic chemistry. In the largest application, stannous chloride is a common reducing agent for the conversion of nitro and oxime groups to amines. The Stille reaction couples organotin compounds with organic halides or pseudohalides. [100]

Li-ion batteries

Tin forms several inter-metallic phases with lithium metal, making it a potentially attractive material for battery applications. Large volumetric expansion of tin upon alloying with lithium and instability of the tin-organic electrolyte interface at low electrochemical potentials are the greatest challenges to employment in commercial cells. [101] Tin inter-metallic compound with cobalt and carbon was implemented by Sony in its Nexelion cells released in the late 2000s. The composition of the active material is approximately Sn0.3Co0.4C0.3. Research showed that only some crystalline facets of tetragonal (beta) Sn are responsible for undesirable electrochemical activity. [102]


Cases of poisoning from tin metal, its oxides, and its salts are almost unknown. On the other hand, certain organotin compounds are almost as toxic as cyanide. [44]

Exposure to tin in the workplace can occur by inhalation, skin contact, and eye contact. The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set the permissible exposure limit for tin exposure in the workplace as 2 mg/m3 over an 8-hour workday. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) determined a recommended exposure limit (REL) of 2 mg/m3 over an 8-hour workday. At levels of 100 mg/m3, tin is immediately dangerous to life and health. [103]

See also


  1. Only H, F, P, Tl and Xe are easier to use NMR analysis with for samples containing isotopes at their natural abundance.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Indium</span> Chemical element, symbol In and atomic number 49

Indium is a chemical element with the symbol In and atomic number 49. Indium is the softest metal that is not an alkali metal. It is a silvery-white metal that resembles tin in appearance. It is a post-transition metal that makes up 0.21 parts per million of the Earth's crust. Indium has a melting point higher than sodium and gallium, but lower than lithium and tin. Chemically, indium is similar to gallium and thallium, and it is largely intermediate between the two in terms of its properties. Indium was discovered in 1863 by Ferdinand Reich and Hieronymous Theodor Richter by spectroscopic methods. They named it for the indigo blue line in its spectrum. Indium was isolated the next year.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Iridium</span> Chemical element, symbol Ir and atomic number 77

Iridium is a chemical element with the symbol Ir and atomic number 77. A very hard, brittle, silvery-white transition metal of the platinum group, it is considered the second-densest naturally occurring metal with a density of 22.56 g/cm3 (0.815 lb/cu in) as defined by experimental X-ray crystallography. It is one of the most corrosion-resistant metals, even at temperatures as high as 2,000 °C (3,630 °F). However, corrosion-resistance is not quantifiable in absolute terms; although only certain molten salts and halogens are corrosive to solid iridium, finely divided iridium dust is much more reactive and can be flammable, whereas gold dust is not flammable but can be attacked by substances that iridium resists, such as aqua regia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lead</span> Chemical element, symbol Pb and atomic number 82

Lead is a chemical element with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. It is a heavy metal that is denser than most common materials. Lead is soft and malleable, and also has a relatively low melting point. When freshly cut, lead is a shiny gray with a hint of blue. It tarnishes to a dull gray color when exposed to air. Lead has the highest atomic number of any stable element and three of its isotopes are endpoints of major nuclear decay chains of heavier elements. Lead is toxic, even in small amounts, especially to children.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rhodium</span> Chemical element, symbol Rh and atomic number 45

Rhodium is a chemical element with the symbol Rh and atomic number 45. It is a very rare, silvery-white, hard, corrosion-resistant transition metal. It is a noble metal and a member of the platinum group. It has only one naturally occurring isotope: 103Rh. Naturally occurring rhodium is usually found as a free metal or as an alloy with similar metals and rarely as a chemical compound in minerals such as bowieite and rhodplumsite. It is one of the rarest and most valuable precious metals.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rhenium</span> Chemical element, symbol Re and atomic number 75

Rhenium is a chemical element with the symbol Re and atomic number 75. It is a silvery-gray, heavy, third-row transition metal in group 7 of the periodic table. With an estimated average concentration of 1 part per billion (ppb), rhenium is one of the rarest elements in the Earth's crust. Rhenium has the third-highest melting point and second-highest boiling point of any element at 5869 K. Rhenium resembles manganese and technetium chemically and is mainly obtained as a by-product of the extraction and refinement of molybdenum and copper ores. Rhenium shows in its compounds a wide variety of oxidation states ranging from −1 to +7.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Scandium</span> Chemical element, symbol Sc and atomic number 21

Scandium is a chemical element with the symbol Sc and atomic number 21. It is a silvery-white metallic d-block element. Historically, it has been classified as a rare-earth element, together with yttrium and the Lanthanides. It was discovered in 1879 by spectral analysis of the minerals euxenite and gadolinite from Scandinavia.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Solder</span> Alloy used to join metal pieces

Solder is a fusible metal alloy used to create a permanent bond between metal workpieces. Solder is melted in order to wet the parts of the joint, where it adheres to and connects the pieces after cooling. Metals or alloys suitable for use as solder should have a lower melting point than the pieces to be joined. The solder should also be resistant to oxidative and corrosive effects that would degrade the joint over time. Solder used in making electrical connections also needs to have favorable electrical characteristics.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Carbon group</span> Periodic table group

The carbon group is a periodic table group consisting of carbon (C), silicon (Si), germanium (Ge), tin (Sn), lead (Pb), and flerovium (Fl). It lies within the p-block.

The periodic table is laid out in rows to illustrate recurring (periodic) trends in the chemical behaviour of the elements as their atomic number increases: a new row is begun when chemical behaviour begins to repeat, meaning that elements with similar behaviour fall into the same vertical columns. The fifth period contains 18 elements, beginning with rubidium and ending with xenon. As a rule, period 5 elements fill their 5s shells first, then their 4d, and 5p shells, in that order; however, there are exceptions, such as rhodium.

Tin(IV) chloride, also known as tin tetrachloride or stannic chloride, is an inorganic compound with the formula SnCl4. It is a colorless hygroscopic liquid, which fumes on contact with air. It is used as a precursor to other tin compounds. It was first discovered by Andreas Libavius (1550–1616) and was known as spiritus fumans libavii.

Comproportionation or synproportionation is a chemical reaction where two reactants containing the same element but with different oxidation numbers, form a compound having an intermediate oxidation number. It is the opposite of disproportionation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stannane</span> Chemical compound

Stannane or tin hydride is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula SnH4. It is a colourless gas and the tin analogue of methane. Stannane can be prepared by the reaction of SnCl4 and Li[AlH4].

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Organotin chemistry</span> Branch of organic chemistry

Organotin compounds or stannanes are chemical compounds based on tin with hydrocarbon substituents. Organotin chemistry is part of the wider field of organometallic chemistry. The first organotin compound was diethyltin diiodide, discovered by Edward Frankland in 1849. The area grew rapidly in the 1900s, especially after the discovery of the Grignard reagents, which are useful for producing Sn–C bonds. The area remains rich with many applications in industry and continuing activity in the research laboratory.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tin(II) chloride</span> Chemical compound

Tin(II) chloride, also known as stannous chloride, is a white crystalline solid with the formula SnCl2. It forms a stable dihydrate, but aqueous solutions tend to undergo hydrolysis, particularly if hot. SnCl2 is widely used as a reducing agent (in acid solution), and in electrolytic baths for tin-plating. Tin(II) chloride should not be confused with the other chloride of tin; tin(IV) chloride or stannic chloride (SnCl4).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tin(IV) oxide</span> Chemical compound known as stannic oxide, cassiterite and tin ore

Tin(IV) oxide, also known as stannic oxide, is the inorganic compound with the formula SnO2. The mineral form of SnO2 is called cassiterite, and this is the main ore of tin. With many other names, this oxide of tin is an important material in tin chemistry. It is a colourless, diamagnetic, amphoteric solid.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tetrabutyltin</span> Chemical compound

Tetrabutyltin is the organotin compound with the molecular formula Sn(CH2CH2CH2CH3)4 or SnBu4, where Bu is butyl −CH2CH2CH2CH3. Sometimes abbreviated TTBT, it is a colorless, lipophilic oil.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tributyltin hydride</span> Chemical compound

Tributyltin hydride is an organotin compound with the formula (C4H9)3SnH. It is a colorless liquid that is soluble in organic solvents. The compound is used as a source of hydrogen atoms in organic synthesis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bismuth</span> Chemical element, symbol Bi and atomic number 83

Bismuth is a chemical element with the symbol Bi and atomic number 83. It is a post-transition metal and one of the pnictogens, with chemical properties resembling its lighter group 15 siblings arsenic and antimony. Elemental bismuth occurs naturally, and its sulfide and oxide forms are important commercial ores. The free element is 86% as dense as lead. It is a brittle metal with a silvery-white color when freshly produced. Surface oxidation generally gives samples of the metal a somewhat rosy cast. Further oxidation under heat can give bismuth a vividly iridescent appearance due to thin-film interference. Bismuth is both the most diamagnetic element and one of the least thermally conductive metals known.

Tin poisoning refers to the toxic effects of tin and its compounds. Cases of poisoning from tin metal, its oxides, and its salts are "almost unknown"; on the other hand, certain organotin compounds are almost as toxic as cyanide.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Metals close to the border between metals and nonmetals</span> Category of metallic elements

The metallic elements in the periodic table located between the transition metals and the chemically weak nonmetallic metalloids have received many names in the literature, such as post-transition metals, poor metals, other metals, p-block metals and chemically weak metals; none have been recommended by IUPAC. The most common name, post-transition metals, is generally used in this article. Depending on where the adjacent sets of transition metals and metalloids are judged to begin and end, there are at least five competing proposals for which elements to count as post-transition metals: the three most common contain six, ten and thirteen elements, respectively. All proposals include gallium, indium, tin, thallium, lead, and bismuth.


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