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Elemental Phosphorus (WP)


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That reaction also MUST be done in a sealed environment where absolutey ZERO oxygen exists, otherwise any phosphorus you form will immediately ignite.

 

Oooohhhh!

 

Is that how they make phospor bombs?

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Oh yeah, one other thing to remember. Mg for mg, White Phosphorus is as toxic, if not moreso, than cyanide salts are. That means that if for some reason you get some of this white phosphorus on your skin, you will get VERY ill and will have painful sores for quite a long time. (Unless you're unfortuneate enough to die from it).

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as are any of the gasses evolved from such reactions! if you can smell something akin to Garlic, then you`re likely to be in trouble! :(

 

Enlighten me...why should I run for the door if I smell garlic in Science class?

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Certain phosphorus compounds, as YT has already mentioned, have a garlic-like odor, as do many arsenic compounds as well. Generally speaking, the garlic-like compounds tend to be VERY toxic and not good to ingest. (Tellurium compounds may have a garlic-like odor as well).

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Because of its low ignition temperature - 60C, white phosphorous (which you are all most likely making) should not contact warm objects. On contact with skin it sproduces deep difficult to heal burns. Only use water to put out a P fire on the skin. Treat with a compress soaked in 1% solution of CuCO4. Never treat with salve or oil.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Disproportionation of P4.

 

I have a few sticks of yellow phosphorus under distilled water. After many years undisturbed, I opened the bottle, and was surprised by the weak but very clear smell of rotten fish.

 

Why is this? The bottle is stored in a totally dark room, at somewhat below room temperature. So what happens?

 

Well, P4 reacts rapidly with hydroxide ion in warm water solution, the phosphorus disproportionating to phosphine and hypophosphite ion. But something analoguos actually happens in neutral water solution, very very slowly, and in very tiny amount.

However, the amount of phosphine formed is enough to detect a repulsive smell for a short moment when opening the bottle.

 

A bottle of not totally dry commercial red phosphorus also slowly produces a tiny amount of phosphine. Probably this is due to a presence of a small amount of yellow phosphorus contaminating the red variant.

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Thankfully, however, like many toxic gases the human nose is so sensitive towards the smell that concentrations faaaaaaaaaar below a toxic or lethal amount can easily be detected. (Same is true for the halogens, hydrogen sulfide, and many arsenic compounds). You just have to be careful that you don't overwhelm/numb your scent receptors. That could be bad.

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I don't recall off the top of my head, but that's kind of like asking 'which is more lethal, being at ground zero of a fission bomb or being at ground zero of a fusion bomb?'. ;)

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Thankfully, however, like many toxic gases the human nose is so sensitive towards the smell that concentrations faaaaaaaaaar below a toxic or lethal amount can easily be detected. (Same is true for the halogens, hydrogen sulfide, and many arsenic compounds). You just have to be careful that you don't overwhelm/numb your scent receptors. That could be bad.

 

Its true that human nose will sense most gases far below lethal conc but there are some gases that feel almost the same no matter if conc is lethal or just 1/4 of it. H2S is one of such. It is one of nastiest substance to work with.

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