Sulfur is a nonmetallic element founded by Antoine Lavoisier in1777. Sulfur symbol is S, it s a tasteless, odorless, light yellow nonmetallic element. Its in-group 16(or Via) of the periodic table, and its atomic weight is 32.064.
In the United States and all other industrial nations, sulfur is a critical raw material. It is used in thousands of products and processes. Sulfur is yellow in color and similar to oxygen in its chemical behavior. Sulfur burns readily with a blue flame, which earned its name brimstone, or burning stone.
Sulfur is one of the elements necessary to life. It is found in many animals and vegetable substances, especially proteins. The bad smell of rotten egg is due to hydrogen sulfide. It is the sulfur in eggs that tarnishes silver so quickly, forming the black compound silver sulfide. Cauliflower and other members of the cabbage family are particularly rich in sulfur, as are such animal s substances as hair.
The fact that sulfur burns so readily accounts for its use in matches, gunpowder, and fireworks. Sulfur candles are used to kill vermin. Bordeaux mixture, a standard insecticide, contains copper sulfate. In addition, many preparations used to prevent fungus diseases are made with sulfur.
Sulfur ranks 16th in abundance among the elements in the earths crust and it is found widely distributed in both the free and combined states. Sulfur exists in nature both in its native, uncombined form and in compounds. A large proportion of the world s native sulfur occurs in the salt domes of the Gulf region of the southern United States. There are also large volcanic deposits of sulfur in Sicily. Sulfur can be extracted commercially from pyrites. This is a mixture of several sulfur compounds, including the mineral pyrite, or iron sulfide.
The most important use of sulfur is in the manufacture of sulfur compounds, such as sulfuric acid, sulfates, and dioxide. Sulfur is used in gunpowder, matches, rubber vulcanization, plastics, and the treatment of certain skin diseases. When combined with various inert material fillers, sulfur forms special cement used to anchor metal objects, such as railings and chains, in stone. Sulfuric acid is one of the most important of all industrial chemicals because it is employed not only in the manufacture of sulfur-containing molecules but also in the manufacture of numerous other materials that do not themselves contain sulfur, such as phosphoric acid.
All forms of sulfur are insoluble in water, but the crystalline forms are soluble in carbon disulfide. When ordinary sulfur melts, it forms a straw-colored liquid that turns darker with additional heating and then finally boils. When molten sulfur is slowly cooled, its physical properties change in accordance with the temperature, pressure, and method of crust formation. Sulfur thus exists in a variety of forms called allotropic modifications, and several solid varieties, of which the most familiar are rhombic sulfur and monoclinic sulfur.
Sulfur has valences of 2,4,6,and 2. This accounts for many ways it combines with other elements. Some of the main compounds are the sulfides, sulfites, and sulfates. Copper sulfate, or blue vitriol is common sulfate used as a germicide and as a fixing agent in dyeing. Sulfur dioxide is the most useful of these, serving as bleach and as a preservative.