Antimony (Sb)

by Michael Storb

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History of Antimony

Antimony was most likely discovered in 1600 BC. That is when scientists first found a culture using it. Scientists believe it was discovered in Egypt in 1600 BC. They believe this because an Egyptian papyrus of that date spoke of antimony sulfide. There is no determined discoverer of antimony but it was by someone in Egypt. Egyptians started using the natural occurrence of antimony for a mascara that was later named kohl. It was named Antimony from the Greek words, "anti - monos," which means not alone,

Antimony's Properties

Antimony has an atomic number of 51 and a mass number of 122 (121.76). At room temperature it is a solid. Its melting point is 630.63°C, and its boiling point is very high at 1587°C. Antimony has an atomic radius of 133 pm and a density of 6.697 g/cc. It appears as sparkling lumps of broken crystal that is not malleable nor conductive. It is sometimes classified as a metallic semi-metal that is added to other metals to increase hardness. Antimony is also not very flammable or reactive to any substances.
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Antimony's Uses

Many times antimony is alloyed with other metals such as lead to make them harder. A part of some batteries is a lead-antimony alloy. It is used in electronic factories in things such as infrared detectors. Some other antimony-containing materials are type metals in presses, bullets and cable shearing. Many parts(compounds) of antimony are toxic. Different compounds or isotypes of antimony are used to create flame-retardant materials, paints, enamels, glass and pottery. Mixing lead and antimony creates a very hard material. The black form of antimony was used for mascara in Egypt in ancient times.

Fun Facts

China now produces 88% of the world’s antimony before Bolivia and Tajikistan. It used to be used as a laxative that could be re-claimed and be able to be used again. Antimony is a toxic material, but not something to worry about. It is used in water bottles, but is not very harmful at all, as it says in this video:


Element Card: Gray, Theodore W. (2008). The Photographic Card Deck of the Elements.

Elements Book: Gray, Theodore W. (2009). The Elements: A visual exploration of every known atom in the universe. New York: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc.

Royal Society of Chemistry Periodic Table:

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