Tin: the essentials

Ordinary tin is a silvery-white metal, is malleable, somewhat ductile, and has a highly crystalline structure. Due to the breaking of these crystals, a "tin cry" is heard when a bar is bent. The element has two allotropic forms. On warming, grey, or α-tin, with a cubic structure, changes at 13.2°C into white, or β-tin, the ordinary form of the metal. White tin has a tetragonal structure. When tin is cooled below 13.2°C, it changes slowly from white to grey. This change is affected by impurities such as aluminium and zinc, and can be prevented by small additions of antimony or bismuth. The conversion was first noted as growths on organ pipes in European cathedrals, where it was thought to be the devils work. This conversion was also speculated to be caused microorganisms and was called "tin plague" or "tin disease".

Tin resists distilled, sea, and soft tap water, but is attacked by strong acids, alkalis, and acid salts. Oxygen in solution accelerates the attack. When heated in air, tin forms SnO2. It is, or was, used to plate steel, making "tin cans". Tin is used as one component in bell metals.

Tin: historical information

Tin was discovered by Known since ancient times in unknown at not known. Origin of name: from the Anglo-Saxon word "tin" (the origin of the symbol Sn comes from the Latin word "stannum" meaning "tin").

Tin was known to the ancients and is mentioned in the Old Testament. Early metal workers found it too soft for most purposes but mixed with copper it gives the alloy bronze, of Bronze Age fame.

Tin is one of the elements which has an alchemical symbol, shown below (alchemy is an ancient pursuit concerned with, for instance, the transformation of other metals into gold).

{{floatR}}alchemical symbol of tin{{/floatR}}

Tin around us Read more »

Tin might be a necessary element in very, very, small quantities in rats. Organotin compounds are used as bactericides and fungicides in marine environments but cause environmental concern as they cause severe problems to local wildlife.

Tin is never found as the free element. most important tin ore is cassiterite (tin oxide, SnO2). Most of the world's supply comes from Malaya, Bolivia, Indonesia, Zaire, Thailand, and Nigeria. Cornwall in England was famous for its tin mines.

Abundances for tin in a number of different environments. More abundance data »
Location ppb by weight ppb by atoms Links
Universe 4 0.04 Chemical elements abundance by weight in the universe on a miniature periodic table spark table
Crustal rocks 2200 380 Chemical elements abundance by weight in the earth's crust on a miniature periodic table spark table
Human 200 ppb by weight 11 atoms relative to C = 1000000 Chemical elements abundance by weight in humans on a miniature periodic table spark table

Physical properties Read more »

Heat properties Read more »

Crystal structure Read more »

The solid state structure of tin is: tetragonal.

Tin: orbital properties Read more »

Tin atoms have 50 electrons and the shell structure is The ground state electronic configuration of neutral Tin is [Kr].4d10.5s2.5p2 and the term symbol of Tin is 3P0.


Isolation: tHere is normally little need to isolate tin metal in the laboratory as it is readily available commercially. Tin is commonly available as the mineral cassiterite, SnO2. Reduction of this dioxide with burning coal results in tin metal and was probably how tin was made by the ancients.

SnO2 + 2C → Sn + 2CO

Tin isotopes Read more »

Tin has the most stable isotopes (10) of all elements. Tin isotopes are used in a variety of applications. Sn-112 is used as precursor in the production of the radioisotope Sn-113 while Sn124 is used for producing Sb-124. Sn-116 and Sn-117 can both be used for the production of the medical radioisotope Sn-117m which is used in treating bone cancer. Both Sn-118 and Sn-119 have been evaluated for the production of Sn-119m.

Table. Stables isotopes of tin.
Isotope Mass
(atom %)
spin (I)
moment (μ/μN)
112Sn 111.904826 (5) 0.97 (1) 0
114Sn 113.902784 (4) 0.66 (1) 0
115Sn 114.903348 (3) 0.34 (1) 1/2 -0.91884
116Sn 115.901747 (3) 14.54 (9) 0
117Sn 116.902956 (3) 7.68 (7) 1/2 -1.00105
118Sn 117.901609 (3) 24.22 (9) 0
119Sn 118.903311 (3) 8.59 (4) 1/2 -1.04729
120Sn 119.9021991 (29) 32.58 (9) 0
122Sn 121.9034404 (30) 4.63 (3) 0
124Sn 123.9052743 (17) 5.79 (5) 0

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