It is a dull-gray powdery material with no common uses other than a few specialized semiconductor applications.

It does not form wide solid solution ranges in other metals in general, and few elements have appreciable solid solubility in tin.

Simple eutectic systems, however, occur with bismuth, gallium, lead, thallium and zinc.

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Another large application for tin is corrosion-resistant tin plating of steel. Because of its low toxicity, tin-plated metal was used for food packaging as tin cans, which are actually made mostly of steel or aluminium.

However, overexposure to tin may cause problems with metabolizing essential trace elements such as copper and zinc, and some organotin compounds can be almost as toxic as cyanide.

Alluvial (placer) deposits could be easily collected and separated by methods similar to gold panning.

Most organotin compounds are colorless liquids or solids that are stable to air and water. Tetraalkyl- and tetraaryltin compounds can be prepared using Grignard reagents: Divalent organotin compounds are uncommon, although more common than related divalent organogermanium and organosilicon compounds.

It has two main allotropes: at room temperature, the stable allotrope is β-tin, a silvery-white, malleable metal, but at low temperatures it transforms into the less dense grey α-tin, which has the diamond cubic structure. The first alloy used on a large scale was bronze, made of tin and copper, from as early as 3000 BC. Pewter, which is an alloy of 85–90% 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, which are typically 60% or more tin.

Apart from Sn, cannot be made in significant amounts in the s- or r-processes and are considered among the p-nuclei, whose origins are not well understood yet.