Phosphorus - An Element, That IGNITES Everything AROUND IT!

  July 15, 2017

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Please note that this video was made solely for demonstration purposes! Do not attempt to repeat the experiments shown in this video!
So, today I want to tell you about such an element as phosphorus. Phosphorus is a typical non-metal element that is located in the 15th group of the periodic table of chemical elements. In nature, phosphorus is present in the composition of the minerals called Apatite. Our body contains 1% of phosphorus by mass, mostly as part of the bones. Pure phosphorus exists in 4 allotropic modifications, the most common one of which is the modification of red phosphorus. The red phosphorus looks like a dark red powder, which readily absorbs moisture from the air. Over time, red phosphorus gets caked due to formation of polyphosphoric acids while being exposed to air. In everyday life, we can find phosphorus on the scratch surface of a matchbox. During the friction process of a match with the box, the potassium chlorate contained in the match-head oxidizes the phosphorus, releasing heat that ignites the composition of the match-head. Red phosphorus burns well in air. And, of course, it burns even better in pure oxygen. In a flask filled with pure oxygen, the burning phosphorus emits huge amounts of light. This reaction can be used for lighting up a large space The smoke produced in the bulb is nothing more but the phosphorus oxide, from which it is possible to obtain calcium zinc phosphate which is used for coating the insides of fluorescent lamps, as a luminophore. In addition to the red form, which is more or less stable, by a process of sublimation the red phosphorus can be converted into a very unstable form, the white phosphorus. White phosphorus has more interesting but dangerous properties, for example, its extremely high toxicity. In air, white phosphorus actively oxidizes and releases smoke, forming the oxide of phosphorus. Hence, it is stored in water. In the dark, white phosphorus glows due to oxidation by oxygen in air, but the glowing is very weak. But you shouldn’t think that everything that glows in the dark is phosphorus. No one is going to sell toys made of white phosphorus and coat the clock hands using it. If you are doubting this, look at what happens when the white phosphorus is put onto a warm surface.
It immediately melts and ignites, burning with a very high temperature - more than 800 degrees Celsius. White phosphorus burns on any surface, igniting everything around it. That is why people started to use it to make incendiary ammunition shells, which later got banned by the Geneva Convention, although the US and Israel have not signed this Convention. White phosphorus is highly soluble in some nonpolar solvents, such as benzol and carbon disulphide. In carbon disulphide the solubility of white phosphorus is the highest. If you immerse paper into such solution of phosphorus in carbon disulphide, you will see an interesting effect.
Over time, the carbon disulphide evaporates, leaving a fine white phosphorus, which will then spontaneously ignite and burn the paper.
According to some sceptical scientists, exactly this reaction is used as a demonstration of the phenomenon of fertile fire in Jerusalem. Also, the solution of white phosphorus in carbon disulphide was used for the self-igniting Molotov cocktail during world war II.
There are 2 more forms of phosphorus though, black and metallic phosphorus, however, unfortunately, they are very difficult to find, especially getting hands on them for conducting experiments. Nowadays, phosphorus is used in agriculture as a fertilizer, for water softening and for protection of metals from corrosion.
Also, phosphorus is part of the most dangerous toxic nerve gases on the planet, the usage of which is prohibited.

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