What is zinc?
Zinc, with the chemical symbol ‘Zn’, is a transition metal with an atomic number of 30. It is the 24th most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and has five stable isotopes. In nature, it exists as a pure metal with an oxidation state of 0.
Metallic zinc reacts readily with water to produce zinc oxide and hydrogen gas.
When burned in air, zinc metal forms a fluffy product that alchemists called ‘white snow’ or philosopher’s snow’. In combination with other elements, its most common oxidation state is +2, although it does occasionally exist in the +1 oxidation state. See: Function of Zinc.
Common zinc formulae are zinc oxide (ZnO), zinc blende (ZnS), and zinc sulphate (ZnSO4).
Historically known as ‘white vitriol’, zinc sulphate is a common source of soluble zinc ions.
The most common dietary supplements of zinc are zinc carbonate (ZnCO3) and zinc gluconate (C12H22O14Zn). Click here to shop for Zinc supplements.
There are two moles of gluconate for every mole of zinc. Zinc oxide is used as a topical antiseptic cream (‘nappy cream’). Zinc chloride (ZnCl2) is used in deodorants, while Zinc pyrithione is used in dandruff shampoo.
A protease is any enzyme that catalyses a proteolysis reaction. In proteolysis, the covalent bonds between constituent amino acids are broken down, or hydrolysed.
In some proteases, the catalytic mechanism requires a metal. Metalloproteases are the subject of a separate article.