Antimony (Sb) - Occurrence, Extraction, Properties and Applications

Antimony was (Sb)  not known when antimony was first discovered, although it was known to exist in compounds by ancient civilisations. It was known to exist is metallic form in the 17th century and possibly even earlier.

Antimony and several of its compounds are known to be toxic.


Although it is not a common element, it is found in over 100 mineral species. While it can be found in elemental form, it is more often found as a sulfide (Sb2S3) in stibnites, as a antimonide of heavy metals or an oxide.


With the sulfide being the most abundant source of antimony, this material is roasted to yield the oxide, which is in turn reduced by salt and scrap iron or carbon.

Key Properties

Metallic antimony is:

  • Brittle
  • Has a flaky, crystalline texture
  • Appears bluish white
  • Possesses a metallic lustre
  • Is unaffected by air under ambient conditions
  • Burns brilliantly when heated, producing Sb2O3 fumes
  • Is a poor conductor of heat and electricity
  • Has a hardness of 3 to 3.5

Key Applications

Antimony is used in the manufacture of:

  • Semiconducting devices such as infrared detectors, diodes and Hall effect devices.
  • Lead to improve hardness and mechanical strength
  • Batteries
  • Antifriction alloys
  • Small arms and tracer bullets
  • Cable sheathing

Compounds of antimony are used in the production of:

  • Paints
  • Enamels
  • Glass
  • Pottery


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