Tin sulfate is commonly used in acid tin plating baths, liquor finishing and drawing of steel wire. It delivers a high current efficiency and smooth, fine grained deposits with a bright finish. It is also useful in the production of ternary Cu-Sn-S thin films for solar cell application. It is a key raw material in the color anodizing of aluminum for architectural or automotive applications. Almost one half of the tin consumed in the US is used to produce anodized aluminum for these applications.
Chemically, tin is a metal with valencies of two and four, and compounds that contain it are divided into the inorganic and the organo-tin series. The inorganic tin compounds include tin chloride (SnCl2), stannous chloride, and tin sulfate. The organo-tin compounds are those that contain a tin-to-carbon bond. They are the source of a wide variety of commercial products, including tin sulfate, tin fluoride, and tin oxide.
Many tin salts are skin irritants, and dermal contact can result in burning and blistering. Stannous chloride and tin sulfate are strong alkalis that can burn tissue and cause severe eye irritation. Inhalation of tin sulfate dust may result in lung damage. Some of the organo-tin compounds are milder than the inorganic tin compounds, and they have found use as perfume stabilizers, as paint additives, and as a coating for drill glass. Inorganic tin fluoride is used to make abrasive toothpastes. It is also an ingredient in lead-free glass for automobiles.