Metallic objects named for the wrong metal

The most common example of this is probably aluminum foil, which is commonly called tin foil. I’m quite certain it is indeed aluminum, so why do people call it tin? Was it actually tin back in the old days? Speaking of tin, what about tin cans (the ones fruits and vegetables come in)? They don’t look like aluminum, but I would guess that they were steel if it wasn’t for the name. Are tin buildings really made of tin? I’m guessing they are, but knowing would be swell. What are some other metallic objects named after the wrong metal? Should I decide to start recycling metal some day, I want to make sure I get my money’s worth.

Well, we commonly call our kitchen utensils “silverware,” even though there’s rarely any actual silver in them.

Many of the products you mention are (or were) steel with a thin tin coating.

Steel rusts, or can otherwise with other things (like acidic food in a can).

Tin is less reactive.

Sometimes a zinc coating is used for similar purposes.

The original foil was tin, IIRC. Aluminum came later. Tin cans are more properly tinned cans, steel lined with tin.

Oh, and a 5 cent piece is still called a nickel, even though there’s now very little nickel in them (I think they’re mostly a copper alloy now).

Yes, both were originally made of tin. In fact, I’m pretty sure you can still buy tin foil.

Tin roofing is generally tin-plated iron.

My mom’s mom continued to refer to thermometers as “mercury thermometers” or even just “mercurys” long after the mercury was replaced with something else. Does that count?

Tinfoil was indeed made out of tin before the electrolytic/flux process made aluminum affordable. (Aluminum is very common but so tightly bound in its ores that only electrolytic refining is profitable; before electricity became relatively cheap, it was a rare, rare metal. The peak of the Washington Monument was capped with aluminum because it was so valuable a metal … a measure of saying how important Washington was to the U.S.)

Tin cans and tin roofs are made of galvanized iron, i.e., iron to which tin (or now more commonly zinc) has been made to interact as an iron/tin or iron/zinc alloy coating the actual structural iron by a galvanizing process, as a rust-preventative.

The U.S. and Canadian 21-mm five-cent coins are commonly called nickels because that is the metal they were originally made of. The U.S. coins have not contained nickel in many years; I believe the Canadian ones contain only a small admixture of nickel now.

Pencil leads are made of graphite. Raleigh has a Lead Mine Road which actually leads to the former site, not of a lead mine, but of a graphite quarry.

Yes – an alloy of copper and nickel. Currently 25% nickel. A decent amount.

My tinfoil hat is actually made from a secret alloy given to me by spies from the future. It protects me from the brain waves sent out by Major League Baseball.

So it’s really a quarter, eh?

Perhaps this would be more appropriate under surveys.
How many “tin” cans have you examined closely recently.
Most are not tinned but coated with lacquer/paint or similar finish on the inside!
Also they appear to be made from a lighter (thinner) gauge of sheet stock.
A Krupps safe edge can opener will seldom roll the rim to cutoff in one pass but usually take two runs around the rim to do thejob.
Even then it may require a little armstrong english to get the top off!

tin-plated iron = galvanized, i.e. zinc coated, iron? :rolleyes:

ok…was tin-plated. As noted, most is galvanized these days. And lacquer has indeed replace tin as a lining. But the OP was asking where the name came from, not what the objects were currently made of. :smiley:

The Silver Screen isn’t.

It’s still called plumbing even though pipes have not been made of lead in several centuries.

The Golden Arches were never gold, and the Steel Curtain was flesh and blood, and a little plastic.

Chrome bumpers were steel, plated thinly with nickel, then copper, then chromium.

Some brass monkeys may be solid brass, but many are brass-plated zinc. I have no information on how cold it has to be to freeze the balls off a zinc monkey.

Not quite. Lead piping was used for many things up until very recently. Recently relative to plumbing anyway, meaning within the last 70 years. [url=] And lead was used for some toilet bends up until the 50’s.

But I still got a chuckle out of the obscure reference!

There’s lots of things named gold this and golden that that were not made of gold. Starting with the Golden Fleece, I imagine.

But the Iron Curtain was made out of iron, at least in part. You know, all those Soviet tanks, machine guns, etc.

German silver has no silver in it.