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zinc block is a metal rod that has been designed to protect buried or submerged elements of a ship’s structure from corrosion. It is a cathodic anode, meaning it works by “sacrificing” itself to attract the electrons of corroding water to it rather than the ship’s steel surface. The zinc anode is usually attached using bolts or brackets and is available in a variety of sizes and shapes to fit different equipment or ship’s structures. Zinc anodes are usually changed out every 2 or 3 years, depending on the corrosiveness of the environment and the size of the boat.
Zinc is most commonly used to galvanize iron and steel against corrosion through hot-dip galvanizing or electrogalvanizing. A layer of zinc oxide is formed on the surface of the steel, which makes it more resistant to ordinary atmospheric conditions and corrodes at a much slower rate than the underlying steel. Objects so treated range from small nuts and bolts to large steel window frames or girders used in construction.
Zinc oxide is also an ingredient in many sunscreen products, helping to shield the skin from the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation (UVR). The zinc sits on top of the skin like a barrier and is not absorbed, which allows it to protect against some of the longer UVA and UVB wavelengths that make it through the ozone layer. This protection from the sun’s UVR is especially important for sensitive skin that is prone to burning and redness.