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Who Discovered Sulfur?

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Sulfur is a yellow, solid element, also known as brimstone that is essential for living systems. It is one of the elements of antiquity, as it is referred to in the Bible and the Torah, so it can’t be ascertained from any historical writs what person, or group of people, were the first to discover what is now known commonly as sulfur.

In 6th Century B.C.

The Chinese people of the sixth century B.C. knew about sulfur in its natural form and by the third century B.C. they had discovered how to isolate it from pyrite. This isolation enabled the Chinese to use sulfur in medicine, as well as formulating sulfur into gunpowder by 1044 A.D. The last leg that led to the final discovery regarding sulfur was the determination that sulfur was an element, not a compound as previously thought. Antoine Lavoisier elucidated this fact in 1777.

Sulfur elementSulfur has an atomic mass of 32.065 and an atomic number of 16.

Sulfur and sulphur

Sulfur and sulphur are the same element, with sulfur being the spelling of the element recognized by all of the dominant chemical societies as well as the common spelling in the United States. Though sulfur is an important component in many useful substances including fertilizers, gunpowder, and fungicides, it has gotten a bad reputation for two primary reasons. The first is that coal and oil were discovered to contain impurities that, when burned, produce sulfur dioxide gas that when mixed with atmospheric water produces sulfuric acid, better known as acid rain.

Rotten egg smell

The second reason that is not quite as serious, but nonetheless a problem, is that anaerobic bacterial decay contains sulfur hydroxide gas that gives items a rotten egg smell that most people attribute to the elemental sulfur, that in reality is odorless in its pure form. Because of the wide array of uses found for elemental sulfur, it was an important discovery. Be that as it may, it was another one of the discoveries that spanned several thousand years as well as spanning the Earth as well. It may not be able to be attributed to any one person, peoples or event, but every small discovery involving sulfur added a little more to the collective understanding of this necessary element.