This paper reports on the preparation of high purity ZnS nanoparticles by a facile single step solvent-free route via thermal decomposition of zinc acetate dihydrate and thiourea in air atmosphere. The third-order optical nonlinearity of the prepared ZnS nanoparticles were measured by Z-scan technique using continuous wave 532-nm diode pumped Nd:YAG laser. From nonlinear optical (NLO) measurements, the prepared ZnS nanoparticles possess negative nonlinearity i.e., self-defocusing. Open aperture Z-scan measurement shows saturable absorption within the medium. These results show that the prepared ZnS nanoparticles are promising candidate for various potential applications in the field of nonlinear optics.