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Sulfur (S): Other Nonmetals

Sulfur (S)

What is Sulfur?

Sulfur (S), also spelled sulphur, nonmetallic chemical element belonging to the oxygen group (Group 16 [VIa] of the periodic table), one of the most reactive of the elements. Pure sulfur is a tasteless, odourless, brittle solid that is pale yellow in colour, a poor conductor of electricity, and insoluble in water. It reacts with all metals except gold and platinum, forming sulfides; it also forms compounds with several nonmetallic elements. Millions of tons of sulfur are produced each year, mostly for the manufacture of sulfuric acid, which is widely used in industry. In cosmic abundance, sulfur ranks ninth among the elements. Continue reading from Encyclopedia Britannica

The History

Sulfur is mentioned 15 times in the Bible, and was best known for destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. It was also known to the ancient Greeks, and burnt as a fumigant. Sulfur was mined near Mount Etna in Sicily and used for bleaching cloth and preserving wine, both of which involved burning it to form sulfur dioxide, and allowing this to be absorbed by wet clothes or the grape juice. For centuries, sulfur along with mercury and salt, was believed to be a component of all metals and formed the basis of alchemy whereby one metal could be transmuted into another.

Antoine Lavoisier thought that sulfur was an element, but in 1808 Humphry Davy said it contained hydrogen. However, his sample was impure and when Louis-Josef Gay-Lussac and Louis-Jacques Thénard proved it to be an element the following year, Davy eventually agreed. Continue reading from Royal Society of Chemistry

Sulfur Facts

Sulfur makes up almost 3 percent of the Earth's mass, according to Chemicool. That is enough sulfur to make two additional moons. Sulfur dioxide was used to fumigate homes from ancient times, a practice which continued well into the 19th century. One 1889 paper by the New York City chief health inspector described how officials burned sulfur and alcohol in homes afflicted with smallpox, scarlet fever, diphtheria and measles. Continue reading from LiveScience

Chart of Elemental Properties for Sulfur

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