Zinc is most commonly used as an anti-corrosion agent, and galvanization (coating of iron or steel) is the most familiar form.

Zinc is more reactive than iron or steel and thus will attract almost all local oxidation until it completely corrodes away. A protective surface layer of oxide and carbonate ( Zn5(OH)6(CO3)2 ) forms as the zinc corrodes. This protection lasts even after the zinc layer is scratched but degrades through time as the zinc corrodes away.

The zinc is applied electrochemically or as molten zinc by hot-dip galvanizing or spraying. Galvanization is used on chain-link fencing, guard rails, suspension bridges, lightposts, metal roofs, heat exchangers, and car bodies.

The relative reactivity of zinc and its ability to attract oxidation to itself makes it an efficient sacrificial anode in cathodic protection (CP)