Antimony: the essentials

Metallic antimony is an extremely brittle metal of a flaky, crystalline texture. It is bluish white and has a metallic lustre. It is not acted on by air at room temperature, but burns brilliantly when heated with the formation of white fumes. It is a poor conductor of heat and electricity.

Antimony and its compounds are toxic. It is found mostly with other minerals and in stibnite.

Table: basic information about and classifications of antimony.

Antimony: historical information

Antimony was discovered by Known since ancient times at no data in not known. Origin of name: from the Greek words "anti + monos" meaning "not alone" (the origin of the symbol Sb comes from the Latin word "stibium").

Antimony was recognized in compounds by the ancients and was known as a metal at the beginning of the 17th century and possibly much earlier. Its most important mineral is stibnite, a mineral which formed the basis of black eye makeup in Biblical times. Antimony was sometimes confused with lead in those times. It seems not to be clear who first recognised antimony as an element but the French chemist Nicolas Lémery conducted much of the earlier studies on antimony chemistry.

Antimony is one of the elements which has an alchemical symbol, (right, {{floatR}}alchemical symbol of antimony{{/floatR}} alchemy is an ancient pursuit concerned with, for instance, the transformation of other metals into gold).

Antimony: physical properties

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Antimony: orbital properties

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Isolation: it is not usually necessary to make antimony in the laboratory as it is commercially available. Antimony is found in nature in a number of minerals including stibnite (Sb2S3) and ullmanite (NiSbS). Small amounts of native antimony have been found. Some ores are treatable under reducing conditions to form Sb2S3. The sulphide is removed to leave elemental antimony with scrap iron.

Sb2S3 + 3Fe → 2Sb + 3FeS

In antehr process, some ores can be heated to evolve the oxide Sb2O3 and this in turn can be reduced by charcoal in the presence of sodium sulphate, to ensure mixing, to form elemental antimony.

2Sb2O3 +3C → 4Sb + 3CO2

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antimony atomic number