About Tin


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Tin is obtained from a mineral called cassiterite which is mined in Brazil, Bolivia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Peru. The Cornish mines in Britain were almost wiped during the price collapse in 1985. Cassiterite is basically tin oxide and needs to be smelted before use.

The cassiterite is smelted into metal by reducing it with carbon in a big furnace called the reverbratory furnace in temperatures in excess of 1200 degrees Celsius. The reverbratory furnace is a special furnace that isolates the tin oxide being smelted from the fuel that is powering the furnace. The hot gases that result from the burning of the fuel are the ones that are acting on the tin oxide.

The challenge in smelting casserite is that it is usually mined with other minerals mixed in it. Therefore, it is necessary to refine the tin to make it commercially viable. Refining the tin in a furnace involves various procedures before pure tin can be produced. For example, iron is removed from the molten tin by passing steam through it. Tin that are very impure can be refined using electrolysis to reach a pure level.

One of the main properties of tin is that it mixes quite well with other metals forming alloys. This alloy forming quality and low meting point makes tin a valuable resource. Tin is non-toxic and does not corrode and there fore it makes the ideal finishing coat for steel cans used to store food and drinks. This is how the tin can is made.

Pewter is a popular tin alloy used by craftsmen to create artistic designs used in household decorations. The shiny surface of pewter lends a certain charm to decorations and the ease of shaping this tin alloy allows many an artist to express their creative freedom. The fact that pewter will not rust or corrode ensures a long life for works of art.

Bronze is also an alloy of tin composed of tin and copper. Bronze metal were used by the ancient Roman army to forge their protective body armor and spear tips. Higher grade tin bronzes are also used to make bells.

Another alloy of tin that is very important today is the solder. Solders are used in electronics to create connections between microchips and the printed circuit boards that they sit on.

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