AskDefine | Define tinfoil

Dictionary Definition

tinfoil n : foil made of tin or an alloy of tin and lead [syn: tin foil]

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. a thin, pliable sheet of tin or an alloy of tin and lead, used as a protective wrapping
  2. (as a misnomer) aluminium foil

Alternative spellings

Derived terms

Extensive Definition

Tinfoil or tin foil is a thin leaf made of tin.
Aluminium foil is sometimes mistakenly referred to as "tin foil".


Foil made from a thin leaf of tin was commercially available before its aluminium counterpart. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, tin foil was in common use, and some people continue to refer to the new product by the name of the old one. Tin foil is stiffer than aluminium foil. It tends to give a slight tin taste to food wrapped in it, which is one major reason it has largely been replaced by aluminium and other materials for wrapping food.
The first audio recordings on phonograph cylinders were made on tin foil.
Tin was first replaced by aluminium starting in 1910, when the first aluminium foil rolling plant, “Dr. Lauber, Neher & Cie., Emmishofen.” was opened in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland. The plant, owned by J.G. Neher & Sons (aluminium manufacturers) started in 1886 in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, at the foot of the Rhine Falls - capturing the falls’ energy to produce aluminium. Neher's sons together with Dr. Lauber discovered the endless rolling process and the use of aluminium foil as a protective barrier.
Tin foil is also a good deflector of light. Wrapping it around an object with the shiny side outward will keep the object cool. Light will hit it and be deflected, keeping the sun's rays away thus keeping it cool. It can also be put on windows — shiny side outward — to keep the sun out.
tinfoil in Danish: Stanniol
tinfoil in German: Stanniol
tinfoil in Russian: Станиоль
tinfoil in Swedish: Stanniol
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