Tin oxide is an inorganic compound consisting of tin and oxygen. It is commonly used to create customized glass by giving transparent glass an opaque, porcelain-like, opaque appearance. Beyond glass, this organic chemical compound also has numerous other uses and applications--but care should be exercised when handling tin oxide.
When applied to glass (using the appropriate amount and technique), tin oxide will completely permeate the glass and interact with the chemical compounds within the glass to turn it from transparent to an opaque white. The resulting product, often called milk glass, is a design element in many residential and commercial spaces. These same properties have led to the use of tin oxide in producing the white glaze covering on faience, a type of earthenware that has the appearance of white porcelain.
Granite and Marble Polishing
Tin oxide has also proven to be a highly effective polishing material for glass and quarried rock, such as marble, granite and quartz. In a similar chemical reaction to that with glass, tin oxide restores the luster of a stone surface--especially marble flooring--that’s become dull over time. The technique for polishing is relatively simply: Apply tin oxide to the surface with a damp cloth and continuously rub and polish the surface until you achieve the desired sheen.
Keeling Walker is a U.K. firm that purports to be the world’s largest manufacturer of tin oxide and also claims that its research and development department has expanded the uses of tin oxide for a variety of applications. These include: ceramic colors and glazes, electrical and electronic components, silver electric contact materials, brake pads and friction materials, glass refining and bubble reduction, electrodes for glass melting, anti-static coatings and fillers, infrared reflective and absorptive material and gas detection.
Safe Handling of Tin Oxide
According to the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Guide for Tin Oxide, tin oxide has proven to be relatively non-toxic to laboratory animals. In humans, exposure to tin oxide can result in mild irritation to the eyes, skin and mucous membranes and may also lead to pulmonary problems if inhaled. The guide recommends that people working with tin oxide should thoroughly wash their hands, forearms and faces with soap and water after use.