Cadmium is a soft, silvery-white metal; it is chemically similar to the two other stable metals in group 12, zinc and mercury. Like zinc, it demonstrates oxidation state +2 in most of its compounds, and like mercury, it has a lower melting point than the transition metals in groups 3 through 11.
Cadmium occurs as a minor component in most zinc ores and is a byproduct of zinc production. Cadmium was used for a long time as corrosion-resistant plating on steel, and cadmium compounds are used as red, orange and yellow pigments, to color glass, and to stabilize plastic. Cadmium use is generally decreasing because it is toxic one of its few new uses is in cadmium telluride solar panels.