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Can Of Beans

Have you opened a can of beans lately? Now, we’re not talking about the idiom about starting trouble, rather an actual can of beans, or peas, or tuna or sweetcorn. All of these food products are stored in tin. Tin is a very versatile element and is part of the main group metals in the periodic table.

Tin’s history can be traced back to 3000B.C. when it was used as an alloying element with copper to form bronze. Tin is a soft metal with a shiny silver colour, it is ductile, malleable and highly crystalline. Tin is very corrosion resistant in air and water. Tin is the 49th most abundant element in the Earth's crust, and occurs as tin oxide in the mineral cassiterite.

What Is Tin Used For?

Tin is used in many alloys and for plating steel which is used to produce tin cans for food packaging. Tin is used in solder for making electrical connections as it is an excellent electrical conductor. It is used as a PVC stabilizer, and some tin reagents are useful in organic chemistry.

Molten glass is floated on top of molten tin to create a flat glass window. Pipe organs are made out of a tin and lead alloy.

Did You Know?

Where Is Tin Produced?

Tin has to be extracted from ores as it does not occur naturally. China, Indonesia and Peru are the largest tin producers in the world, followed by Brazil and Bolivia.

It has been estimated that the Earth will run out of tin within 40 years as the consumption rate and technologies have increased significantly over the years. Thus recycling tin has become an important procedure in many countries.


From alloys to tin cans to electrical connectors and windows, tin has a variety of uses. It is one of the softest metals which can easily be crushed by hand. Tin is extracted from ores with the largest ton producers being China, Indonesia and Peru.

Tin is a metal whose usage is ever increasing to satisfy the technological needs of humans but could run out within the next 40 years. So as we are often told by conservationists; when it comes to tin: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

If you would like to learn more about minerals and mining visit our Mining and Metals page.
Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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