Phosphorus Element Number 15  P

 Phosphorus is the 15th element located in the Nitrogen group on the periodic table. It has 4 major forms, defined by color, white (yellow) red violet and black.

 Phosphorus was discovered by a German Alchemist Hennig Brand. Brand was said to be searching for gold, and Phosphorus was discovered after distilling boiled urine. What Brand found was white Phosphorus, which glows and ignites with contact with the Oxygen in the air. the photo shows yellow Phosphorus in a vial of water to prevent ignition. the term phosphorescent, is given to materials that glow in the dark, or when hit with radiation. Silver activated Zinc Sulfide will glow when hit with alpha radiation, and given the term Phosphor, although it contains no Phosphorus at all.

Phosphorus is found in many rocks, one key mineral is apatite which is a Calcium Phosphate mineral. because this element is so reactive it is not found in elemental form in nature.

Phosphorus is important to life, it is part of our DNA, and used in our bodies.This element is also important to plants, and is used as a fertilizer, Fertilizer is the main use of Phosphorus, elemental Phosphorus is made into Phosphoric acid, then used to create fertilizers. Phosphorus was used as an ingredient in detergents because of its water softening qualities, many areas ban this because the P causes rapid plant growth in bodies of water, choking out animals, causing serious problems.

Phosphorus has 23 isotopes and 3 of interest are  P31 which is stable and used in NMR spectroscopy, P32 and p33 are both beta emitters and generally used in labs working with DNA. Phosphorus is used in many compounds, organic compounds, nitrides, Oxides the list is long. Phosphorus-Sulfide is one compound giving us, "strike-anywhere"  matches.

White Phosphorus is used in military applications as incendiary devices. Phosphor bronze is an alloy of copper and Phosphorus. Red Phosphorus is used in cap gun caps! If a chunk of flaming Phosphorus landed on you, you would need to cut it out and remove it before it burned a hole through you.


Photo of white (yellow) and red Phosphorus, the yellow sample is kept under water to prevent ignition.  

 P 15, non metal,  White specs. D: 1.82, MP:   111.6f  BP: 536.9f  AW: 20.9737

Sulfur Element Number 16  S 

Need Some?

Here is a large chunk of pure Sulfur it is an example of Octo Crystalline form.

S 16  non metal,  D:2.07 AW: 32.065, MP: 239.4f, BP: 832.3f,  Mohs: 2.0

 Sulfur is a non metal element directly below Oxygen on the Periodic Table. Sulfur can be found in in elemental form in nature. People have known of Sulfur for a long time, it is referred to as "brimstone" in the Bible. Sulfur can be found near volcanoes. Most Sulfur today is obtained as a byproduct of fossil fuel refining,  Sulfur is extracted from fuels to help prevent pollution.

Sulfur can be used in many compounds, it is very important industrial element, and countries are rated for industrial activity by the Sulfur usages. Sulfur dioxide is the most common compound of Sulfur, and used to produce Sulfuric acid, one main usage of this acid is to liberate Phosphorus Compounds from rocks for fertilizers.

Some other uses of interest, as a food preservative, Sulfur dioxide is toxic to mold and bacteria, I personally use Sulfur to spray my apple trees in fall and spring to prevent fungus related diseases. Sulfur is also used as a bleaching agent in paper mills, as Sulfur dioxide. Sulfur can form organosulfur compounds used in medicines, dyes, food processing, antibiotics and others.

Sulfur is important for life, an average human has more than 100 grams of sulfur within the body!  Sulfur is part of enzymes and amino acid systems.

Sulfur is an element that has Allotropes, or variants Sulfur has 30 Allotropes, and also more than 20 Isotopes. Sulfur is a pollutant in the form of acid rain. Sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere will create acid rain, which literally contains sulfuric acid!!