Zinc is a blue-gray metal that is classified as a sulfide mineral. Over time, as it oxidizes and is exposed to stains, this metal will patina and create its own unique colors and design. Zinc is ductile, malleable, a good conductor of heat and electricity, and has anti-bacterial properties. This metal is also non-porous, meaning that it will not absorb stains easily and it is simple to clean. Zinc is often used with other metals to create a strong, hard material. It can also be applied to other metals through galvanizing or dipping various metals into molten zinc in order to protect it from rusting. The end applications of zinc include cladding, roofing, drainage, countertops, backsplashes, and furniture. Outside of architecture and design, zinc is used in rubber, paint, agriculture, chemicals, and the human body. Zinc, often referred to as a living metal, is necessary for the human body as it helps to process food and nutrients, amongst other things.
Like a variety of other metals, zinc is found in ores that are under earth’s surface. It is often found with other elements such as sulfur and iron. When the ore containing zinc is abstracted from the earth, it is then ground into a powder and soaked in sulfuric acid. This neutralizes the solution and allows for the zinc and other elements to be filtered out.
Extracting zinc from the earth requires very little energy in comparison to other metals and minerals. Like other metals, zinc is recyclable and reusable. Since it is required to be very pure, architectural-grade zinc contains higher percentages of pure ore than industrial-grade zinc, and pure architectural alloy can be reprocessed for new uses.