While zinc is probably one of the more underrated chemical elements out there, the 8 countries that produce the most zinc in the world have realized its true importance.
Brass, which is an alloy of zinc and copper, has been in use since the 10th Century BC. However, zinc as a pure metal was not commonly produced until the 12th century, when India began producing it on a large scale. Even then, zinc remained confined mainly to the subcontinent and was only introduced to Europe centuries later.
Zinc has many traditional uses, but some of its earlier uses were somewhat unorthodox. Zinc was used by alchemists who would burn the element in the air in order to create what was known as white snow or philosopher’s wool. Even the name of the element comes from an alchemist, Paracelsus.
Even though zinc had been used for centuries, it was not until 1800 that we became aware of the electromagnetic properties that the element possesses.
Zinc has a variety of uses which dictate its importance today. Such uses include being used in galvanization, which is the process of coating steel or different metals to protect them from corrosion. Zinc is the ideal element for this process, as it is known as an anti-corrosion agent. Back in 2009, research stated that in the United States of America, over 50% of the total zinc used was utilized in the process of galvanization.
Brass is an alloy which can contain up to 45% zinc, and its anti-corrosion properties have made it the perfect metal to be used in hardware, water valves, and musical instruments.
In the same research mentioned earlier, over a quarter of the total zinc produced was used to produce different zinc compounds, such as zinc oxide, which is mainly used in paints as a pigment. This compound is also a semiconductor, a property which has enabled it to be used in electronic equipment.
Another zinc compound, zinc chloride, acts as a fire retardant when added to lumber. In addition, it is also used as a wood preservative. Zinc sulfide is used to illuminate things such as the hand of a clock, luminous paints, and even television screens.
Zinc powder is also used for propelling model rockets. As you can see, zinc has myriad uses and hence, is one of the essential elements out there.
However, zinc is not just important because of these uses. It is also an essential mineral needed by the human body, whose importance has been neglected to the point that people were simply unaware of its significance. It is extremely important in both the prenatal and postnatal stages. You might be surprised to know that there are over two billion people in the world who have zinc deficiencies. That is more than a quarter of the total population in the world. If there is zinc deficiency in a child, this may result in delayed sex maturation, growth retardation, and increased susceptibility to diseases. Some 800,000 people die every year just from zinc deficiency! This is why the World Health Organization has advocated for supplements to be added to regular diets.
Nevertheless, this does not mean that you should start thinking about consuming all the zinc you can. As is true for everything else, excess zinc is not good for health either, and can result in copper deficiency, lethargy, and ataxia. If you want to learn more about the benefits of consumption of different foods, you might be interested in learning about the 8 countries that produce the most walnuts in the world.
While generally zinc deficiency occurs because of a poor diet, some diseases and illnesses can also result in a deficiency, which can include chronic renal disease, chronic liver disease, and malabsorption.Initially, it was believed that vegetarians and vegans, because of their dietary habits, were more susceptible to zinc deficiencies. However, later studies and research have shown that this is not the case.
Without further ado, we bring you the list of 8 countries that produce the most zinc in the world, which we found in a report prepared by the US Geological Survey.