Sulphur – An Elemental Mineral
Sulphur has been known since the prehistoric times and is referred to as brimstone in the Bible. In its native form sulphur is a yellow crystalline solid and an extremely reactive element.
It is a pale yellow, brittle, non-metallic element that occurs naturally in the environment. It is the sixteenth most abundant element in the earth’s crust. It is an abounding, tasteless and odorless multivalent non-metallic element. Sulphur is infamous and insignificant for its smell and generally compared to that of rotten eggs.
Where Does Sulphur Come From
Sulphur occurs widely in nature in several free and combined allotropic forms. It is found in the earth’s crust, oceans, meteorites and in close proximity to hot springs and volcanoes. It naturally occurs across the globe and in abundance in areas where sulphur rich natural gas and crude oil is processed and refined. Sulphur can also be found in a variety of minerals like iron pyrite, cinnabar, galena, epsom salt, stibnite, sphalerite, gypsum, barite and celestite.
Other Names For Sulphur
The name sulphur originates from the Latin word “sulfur” and Middle English “sulfre” which denotes brimstone. The ancient Latin name is derived from the sanskrit word “sulvere” which means yellow. It is also believed to be derived from the Arabic word “sufra” which means yellow and even from the sanskrit word “shulbari” which means enemy of copper. The prehistoric name for sulphur is brimstone. This in fact is derived from the English word brynstan where brin signifies “to burn” and “stan” denotes “stone”. From this we can conclude that both sulphur and brimstone are translated to signify the word “to burn”
Sulphur is used in fertilizers, drugs, insecticides, explosives, matches and in paper making. It is also an important component of gunpowder. It is also implemented in batteries, fungicides, bleaching agents, detergents and in the production of sulphuric acid. It is used in the vulcanization of rubbber and in chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Sulphur is also incorporated in many personal care products and cosmetics. Elemental sulphur is used as an electrical insulator. Sulphur is added in wine to sterilize it, destroy any organisms and above all to preserve it. Sulphur, in fact is an element essential for life.
In ancient times sulphur was used as an antiseptic, laxative and as a disinfectant. Due of its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties it is used to cure skin ailments. It is also used to treat dermatological disorders like acne, eczema, rosacea, dandruff, scabies and warts. Sulphur soothes and alleviates pre-menstrual syndrome. It is an excellent curative for mind and body related disorders. It is beneficial for the treatment of arthritis, interstitial cystitis and inflammatory bladder conditions. Sulphur is one of the most prescribed drugs in homeopathic medicine.
How Safe Is it?
Sulphur is generally safe to handle. However many sulphur compounds are quite risky and hence you have to adhere to adequate safety measures. Sulphur is a flammable substance and also generates dangerous amounts of hydrogen sulphide gas. It is also highly toxic and hence should be handled carefully.
Digging and excavating sulphur is a difficult and hazardous task. Men carefully climb up the edges of the volcano craters, dig up the sulphur there and carry it down safely in baskets. To sum up, sulphur is an essential component of all living cells.