The uses of sulfur and its compounds

Sulfur is one of the most important basic chemicals and has many applications. The production of rubber from caoutchouc (the so-called vulcanization) is unimaginable without sulfur: the more sulfur is added to the reaction mixture, the stronger the rubber becomes. Hard rubber contains over 20 percent by mass of it. The element sulfur is an… Continue reading The uses of sulfur and its compounds

The natural formation of sulfur

Sulfur occurs naturally (as a pure elemental substance) and forms huge deposits. Part of it was created by volcanism – as in central Italy, for example. Volcanoes give off hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide as well as water vapor. This volcanic reaction mixture with the “smell of the devil and the underworld” spontaneously forms solid sulfur,… Continue reading The natural formation of sulfur

Oxidation numbers of sulfur

In redox reactions, electrons are transferred. The number of electrons is not arbitrary. The charge of the ions is equal to their oxidation state. Magnesium oxide MgO consists of Mg2+ ions and O2 ions. But what if (as with sulfur compounds) there are no ions at all as a product of a redox reaction? For… Continue reading Oxidation numbers of sulfur

Molecular structure and properties of sulfur

Chemists distinguish and classify the many substances in our world according to their properties. You have learned, that the properties of a substance are the result of its molecular structure. That means, if we know the structure, we can conclude the properties – and vice versa. A good example on which you can understand this… Continue reading Molecular structure and properties of sulfur

Melting sulfur

Solid matter that can be melted becomes thinner and thinner until it begins to boil and evaporate. You can try this on a piece of ice. Done? Now let’s see what happens if we melt sulfur. First, prepare a glass of cold water. You will need that soon. Then fill a test tube 1/3 full… Continue reading Melting sulfur

The modifications of sulfur

Normal sulfur consists of eight-atom molecules: S8. These are wavy rings with a typical crown shape. Consequently, sulfur builds up its crystals by forming molecular lattices from S8 units. The rings are only loosely connected by van der Waals forces. This is the reason why sulfur crystals melt at low temperatures and are not particularly… Continue reading The modifications of sulfur


The element sulfur is of great importance for chemistry, geochemistry, biochemistry, and environmental chemistry. It is worthwhile to learn more about this element and to deal with it in more detail. But there are other, not so scientific reasons: Nothing is so closely associated with alchemy as the properties of sulfur and its compounds. And… Continue reading Sulfur