Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn (Latin: stannum) and atomic number 50. It is a main group metal in group 14 of the periodic table. Tin shows chemical similarity to both neighboring group 14 elements, germanium and lead and has two possible oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4. Tin is the 49th most abundant element and has, with 10 stable isotopes, the largest number of stable isotopes in the periodic table. Tin is obtained chiefly from the mineral cassiterite, where it occurs as tin dioxide, SnO2.
This silvery, malleable poor metal is not easily oxidized in air and is used to coat other metals to prevent corrosion. The first alloy, used in large scale since 3000 BC, was bronze, an alloy of tin and copper. After 600 BC pure metallic tin was produced. Pewter, which is an alloy of 85% to 90% tin with the remainder commonly consisting of copper, antimony and lead, was used for flatware from the Bronze Age until the 20th century. In modern times tin is used in many alloys, most notably tin/lead soft solders, typically containing 60% or more of tin. Another large application for tin is corrosion-resistant tin plating of steel. Because of its low toxicity, tin-plated metal is also used for food packaging, giving the name to tin cans, which are made mostly of steel.
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