When you think of sulphur, most likely the first thing that comes to mind is an odour like rotten eggs. However, what you may not realise is that sulphur powder goes into many products used in the areas of medicine, agriculture and manufacturing. Sulphur, sometimes referred to as brimstone, is a yellow chemical element that gives off a strong, unpleasant odour.
Sulphur has been used since ancient times to treat certain medical conditions. It is used for its cleansing properties in the treatment of infections. Other medical uses include the elimination of parasites like ticks and fleas, the treatment of certain skin problems such as scabies and dermatitis, and the treatment of bacterial infections. Sulphur drugs are available as lotions, ointments, creams and soap. Oral medications, called sulfonamides, are administered in tablet or syrup form.
Sulphur is necessary for the growth and development of plant life. The majority of all sulphur in the U.S. is used to make sulphuric acid, and about three quarters of it is used in fertilisers, according to Chemistry Explained. Plants are dusted with sulphur powder as an insecticide. Agricultural sulphur is produced in the form of flowable sulphur for use on vine crops. Wettable powders are applied by dusting or spraying plants. Dusting sulphur is also a fungicide.
Sulphur powder is used in industry for the manufacture of numerous products. For example, it is used to make tires. Sulphur is added during manufacturing to make the rubber hard and to prevent it from melting during warmer temperatures. Other rubber products include latex gloves, pencil erasers and automobile bumpers. Sulphur powder is used in the process of manufacturing other common items such as matches, adhesives, synthetic fibres, paper products, plastics, water treatment chemicals and storage batteries.
Sulphur powder has an ignition temperature of approximately 190 degrees Celsius and there is a potential for explosion when there is a dust cloud from handing sulphur. In addition, static from the particles can result in ignition. It should be stored in well ventilated areas to reduce the risk of fire or explosion. Although ground sulphur is nontoxic when inhaled or ingested, it can cause irritation to your eyes, skin and lungs. For your safety, wear personal protective equipment, such as goggles and breathing apparatus, when working with sulphur powder.