Antimony is a lustrous gray metalloid, it is found in nature mainly as the sulfide mineral stibnite. A native element, antimony metal is extracted primarily from stibnite, which contains 72 percent antimony and 28 percent sulfur.
Use and History of Antimony:
Antimony compounds have been known since ancient times and were used for cosmetics; metallic antimony was also known, but it was erroneously identified as lead. It was first isolated by Vannoccio Biringuccioand described in 1540.
For some time, China has been the largest producer of antimony and its compounds, with most production coming from theXikuangshan Mine in Hunan. The industrial methods to produce antimony are roasting and subsequent carbothermal reduction or direct reduction of stibnite with iron.
The largest applications for metallic antimony are as alloying material for lead and tin and for lead antimony plates in lead-acid batteries. Alloying lead and tin with antimony improves the properties of the alloys which are used in solders, bullets and plain bearings.
Antimony compounds are prominent additives for chlorine- and bromine-containing fire retardants found in many commercial and domestic products. An emerging application is the use of antimony in microelectronics.
The metal’s main use is to impart stiffness and hardness to lead alloys. Antimony compounds are used in medicines, paint pigments, enamelware glazes, and as fireproof coatings on clothing. They are also used in the rubber and patent-leather industries.
Antimony salts are used in the rubber and textile industries, in medicine, and glassmaking.