What is Zinc?
Zinc is the primary component of the hot-dip galvanized coating. But to only recognize zinc as it is used in the galvanizing process would be a huge disservice to the natural, healthy metal. The silvery, blue-gray vital metal is abundant, essential, and common – and even more importantly infinitely recyclable.
Zinc is the 24th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. It naturally exists in the air, water, soil, and the biosphere. Most rocks and many minerals, as well as humans, plants, and animals, contain zinc in varying amounts. In fact, approximately 5.8 million tons of zinc are naturally cycled through the environment annually by plant and animal life, rainfall, natural phenomena, and other activity.
Zinc is also common and essential to all life. All living things from the tiniest micro-organisms to humans require zinc to live as it helps with specific metabolic processes. Additionally, zinc is found in a number of products we use daily such as cosmetics, tires, cold remedies, baby creams to prevent diaper rash, treatments for sunburns, and sunscreens. In fact, zinc oxide blocks more UV rays than any other single ingredient used in sunscreen.
The use of zinc in construction is one of the most common and oldest. For more than 150 years, zinc has been used to protect steel from corrosion, and in particular through hot-dip galvanizing and other forms of zinc coatings. In recent years, even pure zinc metal sheets are also occasionally used in roofing and paneling systems.