Sulfur belongs come the chalcogen family. Other members of the family members are oxygen, selenium, tellurium, and polonium. These facets make up group 16 (VIA) of the routine table. The routine table is a chart the shows just how chemical facets are regarded each other.

The term chalcogen originates from two Greek words an interpretation "ore forming." one ore is a naturally arising mineral offered as a source for one element. Countless ores room compounds of a metal and oxygen or a metal and also sulfur. Compounds that contain two elements, among which is sulfur, are called sulfides. Because that example, a beautiful gold-colored mineral is called pyrite, or "fool's gold," due to the fact that it look at so lot like actual gold. Pyrite is stole sulfide (FeS 2 ).

Sulfur was recognized to old peoples. That is physical and also chemical properties are an extremely distinctive. It frequently occurs together a brilliant yellow powder. As soon as it burns, it produces a clear blue flame and also a very solid odor.

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price S

atomic NUMBER 16

atom MASS 32.064

household group 16 (VIA) Chalcogen

joint SUL-fur

Sulfur, likewise spelled as sulphur, is a very important aspect in today's world. The most crucial use is in the to produce of sulfuric acid (H 2 so 4 ). There is much more sulfuric mountain made than any type of other chemistry in the world. It has an enormous variety of important uses.

Discovery and naming

Sulfur must have been renowned to old peoples. They occasionally referred come it together brimstone. Sulfur periodically occurs in bright yellow class on the height of the earth. It has actually a sharp, offensive odor. When it burns, it gives off a strong, suffocating smell. The odor is prefer that produced when a match is struck.

The bible mentions brimstone in a number of places. For example, Sodom and also Gomorrah were two towns damaged by God because that the wicked ways of your citizens: "The mr rained ~ above Sodom and also upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire."

But old people definitely did not think about sulfur the method modern chemists do. In fact, they used the indigenous "element" to talk around anything the was basic. Ancient Greek philosophers, because that example, assumed that everything contained four elements: earth, fire, water, and also air. Other philosophers thought there were only two elements: sulfur and also mercury.

however early thinkers were often confused as to what they meant by words "sulfur." They frequently were talking about anything the burned and also gave off large amounts that smoke. Come them, "sulfur" was yes, really a "burning substance." It took centuries for scientists to identify sulfur together an element.

physics properties

Sulfur exist in 2 allotropic forms. Allotropes are creates of an aspect with various physical and chemical properties. The two forms of sulfur are well-known as α-form and also β-form (the Greek letters alpha and also beta, respectively). Both allotropes room yellow, with the α-form a brighter yellow and also the β-form a paler, whitish-yellow. The α-form alters to the β-form at around 94.5°C (202°F). The α-form can be melted at 112.8°C (235.0°F) if the is heated quickly. The β-form has a melting point of 119°C (246°F). The boiling suggest of the α-form is 444.6°C (832.3°F).

The 2 allotropes have actually densities that 2.06 grams every cubic centimeter (α-form) and also 1.96 grams per cubic centimeter (β-form). Neither allotrope will dissolve in water. Both space soluble


hard sulfur.
in various other Liquids, such as benzene (C 6 H 6 ), carbon tetrachloride (CCl 4 ), and carbon de defiders (CS 2 ).

another allotrope of sulfur is developed when the aspect is melted. This allotrope has actually no crystalline shape. That looks choose a dark brown, thick, melted plastic.

chemical properties

Sulfur's most significant chemical residential property is the it burns. As soon as it walk so, it offers off a pale blue flame and sulfur dioxide (SO 2 ) gas. Sulfur dioxide has actually a very obvious strong, throttle odor.

Sulfur occasionally occurs in shining yellow great on the height of the earth. It has a sharp, attack odor.

Sulfur likewise combines with most other elements. Sometimes it combines v them easily at room temperature. In various other cases, it should be heated. The reaction in between magnesium and also sulfur is typical. Once the two elements are heated, they incorporate to form magnesium sulfide (MgS):


A chemical reaction involving sulfur.

Sulfur also combines v hydrogen gas:

The compound formed in this reaction is hydrogen sulfide (H 2 S). Hydrogen sulfide has actually one of the ideal known odors of every compounds. That smells like rotten eggs. Hydrogen sulfide is added to organic gas (methane) provided in houses for cooking and also heating. Methane is odorless. For this reason the distinct smell of hydrogen sulfide renders it simple to know when there is a methane leak.

occurrence in nature

in ~ one time, sulfur arisen in layers follow me the Earth's surface. Lock were easy for humans to find and also take. Deposits prefer these are more complicated to uncover today. One ar they still occur is in the vicinity that volcanoes. Sulfur is exit from volcanoes together a gas. As soon as it reaches the cold air, it changes earlier to a solid. It forms beautiful yellow deposits follow me the sheet of a volcano.

huge supplies that sulfur still happen underground. They are eliminated by the Frasch process (see accompanying sidebar).

Sulfur additionally occurs in a number of important minerals. Some examples are barite, or barium sulfate (BaSO 4 ); celestite, or strontium sulfate (SrSO 4 ); cinnabar, or mercury sulfide (HgS); galena, or lead sulfide (PbS); pyrites, or stole sulfide (FeS 2 ); sphalerite, or zinc sulfide (ZnS); and also stibnite, or antimony sulfide (Sb 2 S 3 ).

The diversity of sulfur in the Earth's late is thought to be about 0.05 percent. It ranks around number 16 among the aspects in terms of their variety in the earth. That is more abundant 보다 carbon, however less plentiful than barium or strontium.

The biggest producers that sulfur in the human being are the unified States, Canada, China, Russia, Mexico, and also Japan. In 1996, the United states produced about 11,800,000 metric loads of sulfur. That is mined in 30 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.


over there are 4 naturally occurring isotopes that sulfur: sulfur-32, sulfur-33, sulfur-34, and sulfur-36. Isotopes room two or more forms of an element. Isotope differ native each various other according to your mass number. The number composed to the ideal of the element's name is the mass number. The massive number to represent the variety of protons plus neutron in the cell nucleus of an atom the the element. The number of protons determines the element, however the number of neutrons in the atom of any type of one facet can vary. Every variation is an isotope.

Sulfur occurs in the vicinity the volcanoes.

six radioactive isotope of sulfur are recognized also. A radioactive isotope is one that breaks apart and also gives off some type of radiation. Radioactive isotopes are developed when very small particles are fired in ~ atoms. These particles stick in the atoms and also make castle radioactive.

One radiation isotope the sulfur, sulfur-35, is used commercially. In medicine, the isotope is used to study the way fluids occur inside the body. It also has applications in research as a tracer. A tracer is a radiation isotope whose presence in a mechanism can easily be detected. The isotope is injected right into the device at some point. Within the system, the isotope gives off radiation. That radiation can be adhered to by method of detectors placed around the system.

as an example, a company that provides rubber tires can want to understand what happens to the sulfur added to tires. Sulfur-35 is included to rubber together with non-radioactive sulfur. Researcher follow the radiation isotope in the tires to watch what wake up to the sulfur as soon as the tires room used.

The Frasch technique of removed sulfur

T that Frasch technique is among the most famous mining systems ever before invented. The was occurred by German-American chemist Herman Frasch (1851-1914) in 1887.

The Frasch method is based on the short melting suggest of sulfur. The aspect melts at a temperature slightly higher than the of cook water (100°C). Here is how the method works:

A set of three nested pipes (one within each other) is sunk into the ground. The innermost pipe has actually a diameter of about an inch. The middle pipe has actually a diameter of about four inches. And also the outer pipe has actually a diameter of about eight inches.

A stream of superheated water is injected right into the outer pipe. Superheated water is water the is hotter 보다 its boiling point, but that has actually not started to boil. Superheated water deserve to be do by raising the pressure on the water. The temperature can reach 160°C (320°F).

The superheated water passes under the outer pipe into the underground sulfur, causing it come melt. The molten (melted) sulfur creates a lake at the bottom that the pipe.

at the same time, a present of hot air under press is compelled down the innermost (one-inch) pipe. The hot air stirs increase the molten sulfur and also hot water at the bottom of the pipe. A foamy, soupy mixture the sulfur and water is formed. The mixture is forced upward with the middle pipe. Once it will the surface, it is collected. The sulfur cools and also separates from the water.

similar applications of sulfur-35 involve studying sulfur in steel when it is made, seeing how sulfur affect the way engines operate, adhering to what happens when proteins (which contain sulfur) space digested, and learning exactly how drugs the contain sulfur are processed in the body.


like coal, sulfur periodically occurs in thick layers under ground. One method to remove sulfur would be to mine that the means coal is mined. However a lot easier an approach for removing sulfur indigenous the soil is the Frasch technique (see accompanying sidebar).


Sulfur has relatively few uses as an element. One of the most crucial of those uses is in vulcanization. Vulcanization is the process of adding sulfur come rubber to do it stiff and also hard. That keeps the rubber indigenous melting together it it s okay warmer. The discovery of vulcanization by Charles Goodyear (1800-60) in 1839 is one of the greatest industrial achievements of modern times.

some powdered sulfur is additionally used as an insecticide. It can be spread on tree to kill or journey away insects that feed on the plants. By much the majority of sulfur is used, however, to make sulfur compounds. The most important of these is sulfuric acid (H 2 so 4 ).


nearly 90 percent of all sulfur created goes into sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid is the number one chemical in the world in terms of the lot produced. Each year, almost twice as much sulfuric mountain is made together the next highest possible chemical, nitrogen. In 1996, an ext than 45 million loads of sulfuric acid were created in the United says alone.

The biggest portion, nearly 75 percent, that sulfuric mountain is used to make fertilizers. The following most crucial use, 10 percent, is in the petroleum industry. Other crucial uses the sulfuric acid room in the therapy of copper ores; the manufacturing of paper and record products; the manufacture of other farming chemicals; and the manufacturing of plastics, artificial rubber, and other artificial materials.

Vulcanization is the procedure of including sulfur come rubber to do it stiff and hard.

Sulfuric acid is likewise used in smaller quantities to make explosives, water therapy chemicals, storage batteries, pesticides,


Reaction of sulfuric acid and also sugar.
drugs, synthetic fibers, and also many other chemicals used in day-to-day life.

Health impacts

The cleansing power of sulfur has actually been well-known for countless centuries. In ~ one time, ancient physicians melted sulfur in a residence to clean it that impurities. Cream made through sulfur were used to treat infections and diseases. In fact, sulfur is still provided to treat certain medical problems. Sulfur is ready in among three forms. Precipitated sulfur (milk of sulfur) is make by boiling sulfur through lime. Sublimed sulfur (flowers of sulfur) is pure sulfur powder. And washed sulfur is sulfur treated with ammonia water. Washed sulfur is used to death parasites (organisms that live on other organisms) such together fleas and ticks. It is additionally used together a laxative, a substance the helps loosen the bowels.

Sulfur is a macronutrient for both plants and also animals. A macronutrient is an aspect needed in relatively huge amounts come insure the good health of one organism. Sulfur is offered to do proteins and also nucleic acids, such together DNA. It additionally occurs in many essential enzymes. Enzymes room chemicals the make chemistry reactions occur much more quickly in cells. Human beings usually have actually no difficulty getting sufficient sulfur in their diets. Eggs and meats are particularly rich in sulfur.

A human being who does no get enough sulfur in his or her diet develops particular health problems. These incorporate itchy and also flaking skin and improper advancement of hair and also nails. Under very unusual conditions, a absence of sulfur have the right to lead to death. Such conditions would be very rare, however.

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The cleansing power of sulfur has actually been well-known for numerous centuries.

Plants need sulfur for normal growth and development. When plants perform not get sufficient sulfur indigenous the soil, your young leaves begin to revolve yellow. Eventually, this yellowing extends to the totality plant. The plant may construct other diseases as a result.