Sulfur has been known since ancient times, and is one of the few non-metals that can be found in its pure state in nature. This yellow-yellow crystalline element originates in large quantities near volcanic craters. Another name for sulfur is "brimstone", which refers to the way its crystals burn, melting into a blood-red liquid. In some religions, sulfur is believed to be the fuel that burns in the underworld. Pure sulfur is extracted from subway deposits with hot water. This element is a common ingredient in many minerals, such as cellestine. Many sulfur compounds smell bad. For example, the rotten-egg smell of volcanic pools is due to hydrogen sulfide gas, H2S. Also, the gaseous substance emitted by chopped onions and the odor of the corpse flower contain sulfur compounds. Sulfur has many applications: it is used as a hardener natural rubber for use in tires, to preserve dried fruits and to produce strong battery acids, etc. The element has antibacterial properties and is used in antibiotic medicine, such as penicillin.

Summary of properties (S)

Atomic weight[32.059, 32.076]
Discoverer (year)unknown (ancient times)
Natural formnon-metal solid (orthorombic)
Electron configuration[Ne] 3s2 3p4
Melting point (ºC)113
Boiling point (ºC)445
Abundance in earth's crust (ppm)350
Isotope (abundance)32S (94.99), 33S (0.75), 34S (4.25), 36S (0.01)
Density g/cm32.07
Van der Waals radius (pm)180
Covalent radius (pm)104
Electronegativity (Pauling)2.58
Vaporization enthalpy (kJ/mol)45.00
Enthalpy of fusion (kJ/mol)1.72
Specific heat capacity (J/g·K) at 25ºC and 1 atm0.71
Thermal conductivity (W/cm·K) at 25ºC and 1 atm0.003
Oxidation state+6, +4, -2
Electron affinity (eV)2.07710403 (32S); 2.0771043 (34S)
1st Ionization potential (eV)10.3600

Back to the Periodic Table of the Elements.