Antimony: Symbol, Definition, Element Properties & Uses

Antimony, otherwise known as the ‘lonely element,’ is a distinct metal element known since ancient times for its widespread use to promote multiple functions. Antimony is perceived as a lonely metal element since its never found alone but is always combined with other elements. Here’s everything about the antimony element.

What Is Antimony?

Antimony is an exclusive lustrous, silver-colored metallic element found in the group of metalloids. Flaky in texture, antimony is a brittle, hard, naturally-occurring element that can be found either deep in the earth’s crust or as a copper smelting or refining by-product. It occurs in various forms, including antimony oxide, antimony sulfide, and stibnite.

Symbol of Antimony & Location in The Periodic Table

Antimony defines a unique chemical element that is naturally silvery-white, soft, and malleable that is found in its pure form as sulfide Sb2S3. The chemical element is well-defined in the periodic table by the symbol Sb, with its atomic number representation in the periodic table being 51.

The antimony symbol Sb comes from ‘stibium,’ a term originating from the Greek word ‘still,’ which means to mark. This primarily dictates how the element was utilized to produce black eye makeup. Besides appearing as Sb2S3 (pure form), this element can also be found in several minerals, including stibnite.

Antimony in the periodic table is situated on the element tellurium’s left and element tin’s right. Similarly, it is situated below arsenic, atop bismuth, and boasts properties similar to these elements. Its primary electronic configuration is [Kr]4d105s25p3.

The element antimony is classified as a Pnictogen and a member of the nitrogen group within the periodic table. Elements found in this classification include phosphorus, nitrogen, bismuth, ununpentium, and arsenic. Ideally, this classification group is unique since these elements form strong triple and double covalent bonds to generate stable compounds.

Antimony usually reacts with nearly all periodic table metals to create pnictides. Moreover, all pnictogens comprise five valence electrons, two of which are paired and present in the s subshell. In comparison, the remaining 3 electrons are present in the p shell, notably as unpaired electrons.

Ideally, when this element loses three p electrons, it results in a distinct 3+ charge or losing 5 electrons to create a distinct 5+ charge. Antimony is also among the heavy pnicogens, although it is a bad electric conductor and significantly brittle.

History of the Element Antimony

The initial discovery of the antimony element is still a mystery to date. However, Nicolas Lemery, a French Chemist, was the first to study this element and published it in 1707 titled Treatise on Antimony. Several years later, this element was renamed to ‘antimony’ by Abu Musa Jabir Ibn Hayyan, a name which generally means ‘never alone .’Typically, the name is relevant because it seeks to explain how this element is never naturally found alone- always attached to other elements.

While antimony’s discovery is still mysteriously unsolved, its associate compounds have been well-known since an early age, their history of discovery and use going back to 3000 BC. Typically, Sb2S3 (antimony (III) sulfide) powder was commonly used for black eye makeup in the Middle East, not to mention its presence tracing back to early 3000 BC.

Allotropes of the Element Antimony

Antimony features four unique allotropes: three in the non-metallic state (metastable) and one metallic. Its metallic allotrope is well stable, with the three non-metallic forms unstable. The non-metallic forms are mainly black, explosive, and yellow solids.

Metallic Form

This metallic allotrope antimony form is the most stable component in allotropes. The most prominent aspect of this metallic form allotrope is its unique capacity to expand when it freezes. Surprisingly, only four elements have this ability, including bismuth. This metallic antimony allotrope can be defined as the normal state of antimony.

Metastable Forms (non-metallic)

Black Antimony

Black antimony is an allotrope that results from the rapid cooling of antimony gas. This allotrope is amorphous; hence it comes with no definite shape. Compared to the antinomy metallic allotrope, this antimony is more chemically active. Nonetheless, it easily oxidizes and is more unstable on exposure to air, a feature that can result in spontaneous ignition. Moreover, black antimony at around 100˚C (212˚F) converts into a stable metallic state at elevated temperatures.

Explosive Allotrope

An explosive antimony allotrope is antimony trichloride in a solid solution. This allotrope is highly sensitive, so much so that even small scratches can trigger destructive explosions. The first individual to prepare an explosive antimony was George Gore, an Electrochemist, in 1858.

The process is quite detailed, and it starts with a concentrated antimony trichloride solution going through electrolysis in a hydrochloric acid solution. During the electrolysis procedure, a cathode and anode have to be present.

Ideally, antimony is usually the anode with copper or platinum as the cathode. Afterwards, you deposit the antimony element in the cathode, which can potentially create an explosion. If the antimony scratches the copper/platinum surface, the antimony is subsequently converted into a more stable allotrope through vaporization.

The antimony trichloride releases its head on vaporizing, followed by a white cloud explosion. This process is typically rather hazardous since antimony trichloride fumes are usually toxic; inhalation of these fumes can lead to nose, mouth, lung, and throat irritation.

What’s more, these fumes can lead to abdominal pain and headaches and severely affect the overall health of several body organs, including the heart, reproductive system, and liver.

Yellow Antimony

This allotrope is called ‘Naples Yellow, ‘ an inorganic pigment used for paint. This pigment creates diverse color options ranging from bright, light yellow to darker, reddish-yellow. Naples yellow has been used over several decades and is among the oldest recognizable pigments, stretching back to the 17th century.

This is a non-metallic antimony allotrope and is the least stable element. Yellow antimony is formed by oxidizing stibine (SbH3) at relatively low temperatures of around -90˚C (-130˚F). Once the temperature setting rises beyond this, the yellow antimony turns into black antimony.

What Are the Notable Properties of Antimony (Natural Element Properties)?

  • Average Melting point: 630.628°C; (1167.13°F)
  • Antimony Density: 6.68 g/cm3
  • Boiling point: 1587°C; (2889°F)
  • Class: Semi-metal
  • Antimony Isotopes: 121Sb
  • Atomic weight: 121.760
  • Antimony Atomic number: 51
  • Electronegativity: 2.05
  • Electronic configuration: [Kr] 4d10 5s2 5p3
  • Natural form occurrence: Stibnite

Uses of Antimony

Antimony is a valuable element used in many applications across varied applications. Alchemists commonly used this element as a fusible and hardening agent. However, antimony’s main use, especially today, is as a sulphuric acid production catalyst, an antecedent to many other chemicals. Besides this, its unique density, superb electrical conductivity, and ductility and malleability features create valuable alloys for various uses among them:

Corrosion-Resistant Alloy Production

This is the most popular use of antimony. Typically, antimony finds use in several industries like electronics, where its integration with other alloys like tin bronze helps boost the final product’s corrosion resistance. What’s more, it features a uniquely high density, which makes it a superb alloy agent to bolster other element alloys.

Antimony usually forms an essential lead alloy, bolstering its mechanical strength and hardness. For most lead-related applications, varying antimony amounts are applied to alloy the metal. Although the antimony’s lead alloy popularly finds use in car batteries, these alloys are also commonly applied in casting bullets, cable sheathing, and creating type characters during printing.

Development of Semiconductors

As mentioned earlier, antimony is alloyed with lead, tin, and other metals to enhance their strength and produce certain semiconductors and diodes like infrared detectors. Furthermore, this element is also useful in making various semiconductor devices.

Antimony is a suitable element since it is just several atomic layers thick. Researchers are currently trying to determine whether antimony can replace silicon in small computer chip productions. Why? Although silicon is a fantastic semiconductor, it cannot carry ample transistors. Alternatively, despite being similar in size to silicon, antimony boasts faster charging flexibility.

Creation of Flame-Retardant Products

The element antimony is primarily used as a trioxide for unique flame-proofing elements, always integrated with halogenated flame retardants except in polymers containing halogen.

The unique flame-retardant ability common with antimony trioxide results from halogenated antimony elements formation that react with hydrogen atoms (and maybe OH radicals and oxygen atoms), subsequently constraining fire.

There is a diverse market for antimony flame retardant items, including toys, children’s clothing, automobile seat covers, and aircraft. Furthermore, antimony fire retardant compounds are also incorporated into polyester resins in standard fiberglass composites for products like aircraft engine covers.

Essentially, resin burns where there is an externally produced flame, although it ultimately extinguishes once you remove this external flame.

Alteration of Glass Color

The element antimony is also commonly applied in the glass production industry because of its distinct capacity to alter the general glass color when added to it. Ideally, the more of it you add to your glass, the darker your glass will get.

Pipe Solder Production

Numerous metals are in the periodic table, but antimony is unique because it is among the few elements that can dissolve into molten lead and not react with it. Notably, this unique property makes it a good element for plumbing pipes soldering, as was the case in the Roman Empire period.

Antimony Is Helpful in Various Medical Applications

Antimony is also useful in various medical applications like heart valves and dental fillings. Why? Antimony usually curbs the growth of fungi and bacteria on these gadget surfaces, a factor that can result in infections once it enters your body cavities or bloodstream.

Other Applications

Finally, several other applications consume the biggest chunk of the global antimony supply. The first application is antimony usage as a catalyst and stabilizer to generate polyethylene terephthalate. Furthermore, antimony works well as a fining agent helping in the eradication of microscopic bubbles found in TV screens/glass.

Ideally, the antimony element ions react with oxygen, suppressing the bubble formation tendency. Antimony is also used in other applications as pigments and in producing various components like alloys and jewelry creation.

Interesting Antimony Facts

  1. This element is represented graphically by ancient Egypt’s ‘Eye of Horus’ symbol, which signifies good health, royalty, power, and protection. Furthermore, this symbol highlights antimony sulfide usage for eye makeup.
  2. Antimony is stable in both water and air, being insoluble in water and slightly oxidation by air.
  3. Antimony element is neither malleable nor ductile in its purest form like true metal.
  4. Antimony is referenced in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament. It is mentioned in the story of Queen Jezebel, indicating that she was using it for makeup.

Pros & Cons of Antimony


  1. Diverse application through alloying: Antimony as an element is heavily used in alloying of lead, tin, and other metals to bolster their durability and strength. Antimony can make brittle and soft metal alloys harder, allowing their diverse usage for different applications.
  2. Relatively high electrical conductivity: another notable antimony property is its characteristically decent electric conductivity. Antimony’s electrical conductivity properties are primarily defined by its notably high deformation temperatures, allowing it to conduct a substantial amount of current.
  3. Antimony is stable in both water and air, being insoluble in water and slightly oxidation by air.
  4. Ductile & soft


  1. Toxicity: Antimony fumes are usually toxic when ingested or inhaled. Ideally, antimony is hazardous, and you should take measures not to inhale or ingest it. Nonetheless, this toxicity does not inhibit its broad application, especially in the medical industry, through producing laxatives. On inhalation or ingestion, though, it has various harmful effects on body tissue.


Since its discovery, the antimony element has been a prominent game-changer in various sectors globally for its flexibility in usage. Ideally, the antimony element has grown in popularity since early ages and has remarkably transformed into a vital component in modern-day applications and processes.

If you are looking for the best antimony alloys and products, then Oushi Metals is the place to be. We are your one-stop shop for quality, industry-grade, high-quality antimony products and professionally-alloyed metals to suit your custom needs. Visit us and place your order today!

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