Antimony

What is Antimony?

Antimony, an SB element is described as a chemical element. A lustrous gray metalloid is found mainly in nature as the sulfide mineral stibnite (Sb2S3). Antimony compounds are known since ancient times and were powdered to use in cosmetics and medicines, often known by the Arabic name kohl. Also, the metallic Antimony was known, but it was identified erroneously as lead upon its discovery.


China has been the most abundant Antimony and its compound producer for some time, where most of the production comes from a mine in Hunan.

It is naturally found in Earth’s crust layer in the ores of stibnite and valentinite.


The Antimony symbol is, Sb, and the antimony atomic number is 51.

Environmental Effects of Antimony

Antimony, an SB element, and chemical element found in soils, air, and water in minimal amounts. It mainly pollutes soils. It can travel through groundwater with greater distances towards other surface waters and locations. Few laboratory tests conducted on rats, guinea pigs, rabbits have shown that a high amount of Antimony may relatively kill small animals. Rats may experience heart, liver, lung, and kidney failures before death. On the other side, animals that breathe in fewer Antimony volumes for a stipulated time may experience eye irritations, lung damage, and hair loss. Even dogs may experience heart problems when they are exposed to lower levels of Antimony. Animals that breathe Antimony continually for a couple of months may experience severe fertility problems. It has not been specified fully that using Antimony can cause cancer.

Health Effects of Antimony

Especially the people who work with Antimony may suffer the effects of exposure by continual breathing in antimony dust. For Humans, the exposure to Antimony can take place by drinking water, breathing air, and eating foods that contain it. Moreover, by skin contact with water, soil, and other substances that contain Antimony. Breathing in Antimony bound to hydrogen in the gaseous phase mainly causes health effects.


Relatively high exposure to antimony concentrations (9 mg/m3 of air) for a certain period can irritate skin, eyes, and lungs.


As the exposure often continues, more serious health effects may occur, including heart problems, lung diseases, severe vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach ulcers.

It is yet to be known whether Antimony can cause reproductive failure cancer.


Antimony is used as a medicine for parasitic infections, but people who have a high intake of those medicines become sensitive to it have experienced health effects in the past. Health effects like these have made us more aware of the dangers when exposed to Antimony. All these significant effects are highly seen in HIV and the visceral leishmaniasis coinfections.

Biological and Physiological Significance

Various compounds like Antimony are highly toxic. The antimony compounds usage for medicinal purposes was temporarily outlawed many centuries ago because of the numerous fatalities they had caused. A hydrated potassium antimonyl tartrate, known as “tartar emetic,” is currently added in medicine as a diaphoretic, expectorant, and emetic. The maximum concentration of antimony dust which can be tolerable in the air is about the same as for arsenic, 0.5 milligrams per cubic meter.

Properties of Antimony

  1. Physical Properties of Antimony

Antimony is an SB element and a silvery-white colour; a shiny element looks like a metal. It is hard and brittle like a nonmetal, and it has a scaly surface. Also, it can be prepared as a black powder because of having a shiny brilliance to it.


The melting point of Antimony is about 630°C (1,170°F), whereas the boiling point is of 1,635°C (2,980°F). Relatively it is a soft material that can be scratched by the glass. It has a density of 6.68 grams per cubic centimeter. Its Relative atomic mass is 121Sb, and ChemSpider (a free chemical structure database) ID is 4510681.


A metalloid is an element having characteristics of both metals and nonmetals.

  1. Chemical Properties of Antimony

Antimony is a moderately active element. It does not associate with oxygen in the air at room temperature. Also, it does not react with either coldest acids or with cold water. However, it can dissolve in some hot acids in aqua regia. Aqua regia is formed by a mixture of hydrochloric acid and nitric acid. Also, it often reacts with materials that do not react with either acid separately.

Future of Antimony

Although large amounts of Antimony have been used for the manufacture of alloys and flame retardants and is expected to remain the fact in the immediate future. As science develops more or developing markets or the improved uses are getting developed, the demand for Antimony may also result in increasing.

Antimony Uses

A few of the Antimony uses are listed below.

  • Pure Antimony is used when manufacturing certain semiconductors such as infrared detectors and diodes

  • It is used to increase its durability and harden lead

  • Batteries use Antimony for its smooth functioning

  • Also, it is used to make small arms & bullets

  • In addition, antimony, as an SB element, is an excellent flame retardant.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Is Antimony a metalloid?

Antimony is called a metalloid since it has more specific properties than other elements that are generally known as metalloids (B, Si, Ge, As, and Te) than any metals or other nonmetal reactive elements (means excluding noble gases).


Some common properties are:


  • Antimony is a brittle element with no structural uses in its pure form

  • It has a packing efficiency of 41% within the range of those of the metalloids generally ranging from 34-41%

  • Antimony structure is in the electronic band of either semiconductor or a semimetal

  • It has an ionisation energy of 831 kJ/mol within the range of those of the metalloids generally ranging from 750-1,000 kJ/mol

  • It has mainly weak chemistry and nonmetallic in nature, but it can form alloys with metals

  • Its intermediate electronegativity of 2.05

  • It is the most stable oxide, antimony trioxide, and is marginally acidic. The orders of magnitude weaker compared to the most stable oxides of other reactive nonmetals.

  • Antimony does not appear to form a simple cation in aqueous solution.

2. Where is Antimony found?

Antimony sometimes found in a pure form. Also, it is obtained from the mineral stibnite (antimony sulfide), and commonly it is a by-product of lead-zinc-silver mining. Few other antimony-bearing minerals include tetrahedrite, sibiconite, and ullmannite. Antimony is mined in China, Bolivia, South Africa, and Mexico.


Antimony has been known since ancient times. It is obtained usually from the valentinite (Sb2O3) and ores stibnite (Sb2S3). But, sometimes, it can be found free in nature. This metal is brittle and is a poor conductor of electricity and heat. Pure antimony is used to make some types of semiconductor devices, like infrared detectors and diodes. To increase its lead's durability, Antimony is alloyed with lead.

3. What are the differences between Metal and Non-metal?

A few of the differences between Metals and Nonmetals are tabulated below.


Metals

Non-Metals

Usually, metals are good conductors of heat and electricity.

Non-metals are good insulators of heat and electricity.

These are hard, shiny, lustrous, opaque and ductile, and malleable.

These are usually non-sonorous, brittle, and have a dull appearance.

Metals form ionic bonds as they lose electrons.

None-metals form covalent compounds.

The melting point and density are high.

The melting point and density are low.

Except for mercury, it is in solid form at room temperature.

These may be solids, liquids, or gases at room temperature.

They can easily get corroded.

Form acidic oxides when they are in contact with oxygen.

They have low electronegativity.

They can quickly gain or lose valence electrons.

Good reducing agents as they can donate electrons.

Great oxidizing agents.

Metals are electropositive in nature.

Non-Metals are electronegative in nature.