Sulfur, the non-metallic element represented by the letter S, is listed in the Periodic Table of Elements with an atomic number of 16.Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sulfur-sample.jpg
1. Sulfur is chiefly found near hot springs and volcanoes all over the planet Earth
2. Sulfur in its natural pure form is yellow and crystalline -- mineral collectors seeks out the best polyhedral instances of sulfur for their collections.
3. Sulfur is not soluble in water.
4. The element was spelled with a "-ph-" in the UK and the British Commonwealth until the year 2000 when world-wide organizations in charge of chemical nomenclature proclaimed the official spelling is with an "-f-" instead.
5. Sulfur was known throughout the ancient world all over the globe, being used as medicine in China, Egypt and Greece thousands of years ago to treat ringworm, acne, eczema, psoriasis and scabies.
6. The Bible calls sulfur by the name brimstone, said name used both literally and figuratively in the centuries since.
7. In the esoteric science of alchemy, the predecessor to modern chemistry, the symbol for the element of sulfur is a cross topped by a triangle.
8. Sulfur is a vital component of black gunpowder.
9. Rather than mining raw natural sulfur as was done centuries ago, sulfur is produced today by processing the sulfur-rich contaminants removed from wells drilled for oil and natural gas.
10. Sulfur, being a constituent of the fluids, fats and tissues of living bodies, is essential to life; one of the vitamins, thiamine, is the actual Greek word for sulfur.
11. Sulfur is consistently found in meteorites that have fallen to earth from outer space.
12. Most compounds that contain sulfur have what most people consider a bad odor -- examples are garlic and the natural scent of a skunk. Odorless natural gas is made pungent as a warning mechanism by adding hydrogen sulfide, which has an odor characterized as rotten eggs.
13. Commercially, sulfur is a primary component of plant fertilizers, and is used in the production of the widely-used industrial chemical sulfuric acid, as well as in fungicides, insecticides and kitchen matches.
14. Animal skin, hair and feathers all contain the protein keratin whose toughness comes primarily from the di-sulfide bonds -- the pungent smell of burnt hair comes from that sulfur contained therein.
15. Sulfur is an important ingredient in the treatment of waste water to make it potable.
16. The countries that export the most sulfur are Canada, Russia and Saudi Arabia; the countries that import the most sulfur are China, Morocco and the USA.
17. One new use for sulfur is sulfur bitumen or sulfur asphalt as an extender for roadway asphalt binder, acting ecologically to minimize the use of petroleum-based products in road building.
18. Sulfur is used in the manufacture of non-ferrous metals, cosmetics, pigments and pharmaceuticals and in the industrial processes of vulcanization of synthetic rubber and steel pickling.
19. Historically, Sicily was a primary source of sulfur for the world as recently as the 19th century.
20. The Pacific "Ring of Fire" contains many sources of sulfur -- large volcanic deposits of sulfur have been mined for years in Japan, Chile and Indonesia.
21. 89% of the sulfur extracted in the world is used to make sulfuric acid.