part of our everyday lives

100th anniversary of aluminium foil

Nearly 80 years have passed since tin dominated the foil market.  This year we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first aluminium foil production.

The first aluminium foil rolling plant opened in Switzerland in 1910. Early uses included wrapping sweets and tobacco, and serving as identification leg bands for racing pigeons.

By 1932, aluminium accounted for more than half of all metal foil production—yet the old terminology “tin foil” continued.  Today, our miracle metal, aluminium, represents more than 90% of the foil market.

Following World War II, where aluminium foil was proven as a packaging material resistant to moisture, heat and vermin, it became a popular commercial packaging material for everything from potato chips, to medicine, to cheese, and powdered milk.

By the early 1950s, Alcoa’s aluminium household foil under the name ‘Wear-Ever Foil’ was a standard item in the home and a versatile aid to cookery, according to Alcoa company materials of the time.

In the 1970s, Alcoa promoted aluminium foil not just as a utilitarian household product, but the perfect material with which to decorate and celebrate.  We even published a series of books full of “a treasure of party delights and holiday sparkle” to make using foil. 

Did you know that aluminium foil once started out as dirt?  Here in Australia, Alcoa is part of the primary aluminium production business. 

The aluminium process is a fascinating one, and each stage in the aluminium journey is critical in order to produce the end product.

In Western Australia, Alcoa mines bauxite from the Darling Range south of Perth. This bauxite is then refined into alumina at our three refineries in the South-West of WA. 

Then, we export some of the alumina to aluminium smelters around the world (Alcoa and non-Alcoa smelters), while some is shipped to our own Alcoa smelters in Victoria. 

At the smelters, the alumina is transformed into what looks like solid blocks of aluminium. From there, the aluminium is sold to facilities which turn it into useful products, like aluminium foil, that are part of our everyday lives.

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Aluminium foil celebrates its 100th birthday in 2010

Click image to enlarge.

Aluminium ingots (pictured above) are eventually turned into aluminium products which are part of our everyday lives