The Discovery of Zinc

Zinc ores had been used to make brass long before it was proven to be a distinct element. The earliest brass was found in Palestine between 1400-1000 B. C. However nobody was aware of the origin of the brass; it could be made by humans or borne naturally on Earth. An alloy with 87% of zinc content was found during the prehistoric period in Transylvania. Smelted zinc ores with copper was seemed to be discovered in Cyprus and later being used by the Romans. Then India made the production of metallic zinc by reducing calamine, the zinc carbonate using organic substances such as the wool. These discoveries were made around the 500 B. C. However among those who discovered zinc, nobody was officially named the founder.

Yet later on, zinc element was neither used nor further recognized due to the fact that zinc boils away or easily vaporizes when it is heated. As many did not understand that zinc sublimates easily, all their attempts to extract zinc from its compound often resulted in zinc evaporating into the air. It was rumored that Asians were the one who discovered zinc before the Europeans. Ancient writings from India and China had referred to zinc products. These products were exported Asia to Europe before they were processed in Europe.


The Indians had invented the process to extract zinc element from its ores during the 13th century. The process is to heat zinc ores in a closed container. When the zinc sublimates into vapor form, it condenses in the container. Then it can be scraped off to be used. The method was later on passed to China and Europe.

The Discovery of Zinc

A Swiss physician Paracelsus was probably the first European man to make reflections on the zinc element. His real name was Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim. Not long after he was borne, he used the name Paracelsus which meant greater than Celsus and Celsus was one great Roman physicians. He wanted everyone to know that he was simply greater than Celsus.

He was also an alchemist. The field of alchemy was a pre-science existed in between the 500 B. C. and the end of 16th century. Those who studied alchemy were name alchemists and they were searching for ways to change iron, lead and other metals into gold. Paracelsus made his initial writing about zinc during early 1500s. He wrote about some properties of zinc yet made clarifications that he did not the resources of the metal. Due to his writings and reports about the zinc, at times he was named the man who discovered zinc. The word zinc came from "zink", a German name. The origin of the meaning of zinc was unidentified although it was known that the word was first used in 1651.

The Discovery of Zinc

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