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Lots of urine?[edit]

Did Brand really use 1,100 L of urine? If not, then this should probably be written 1.100 L. GrimFang4 (talk) 02:19, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

He had extracted 60g of phosphorus, thus it was not 1 but 1000 L. Wikipedia uses decimal separators in the US style, but it could well be dropped in this case. Materialscientist (talk) 03:17, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Sounds good. This info is very tough to find online (I still haven't) and the reference, "Parkes and Mellor", is quite ambiguous. That really is a lot of urine. I'd estimate it took something like 500 man days. GrimFang4 (talk) 13:56, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
"Parkes and Mellor" is not ambigous it is fully defined, but I will change it to harv type ref. Pyrotec (talk) 14:13, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
Oh, I see. That was my misreading of the Reference Notes to the exclusion of the Reference Sources. I suppose I'm still learning about Wikipedia's reference styles. GrimFang4 (talk) 03:04, 20 March 2011 (UTC)

Third paragraph needs help[edit]

"Phosphorus is a component of DNA, RNA, ATP, and also the phospholipids which form all cell membranes. It is thus an essential element for all living cells. The most important commercial use of phosphorus-based chemicals is the production of fertilizers."

There is a LONG list of organics that contain this element, not only DNA, RNA, and ATP... this could be cleaned up, perhaps? ATP, ADP, AMP, dATP, dADP, dAMP are all constituents of ATP pathways, and likewise for the other nucleotides (G, T, U, C).... —Preceding unsigned comment added by SpectralDesign (talkcontribs) 00:01, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

Oxidation States[edit]

Phosphorus can assume more oxidation states than as presented in the sidebar. +/- 1 should be included as mentioned here: [1]

Also, any chemist would know that the elemental form of an element has an oxidation state of zero. This is usually included first.

WikiProject Elements[edit]

Article changed over to new Wikipedia:WikiProject Elements format by maveric149. Elementbox converted 10:31, 23 Jun 2005 by Femto (previous revision was that of 04:14, 16 Jun 2005).

Information Sources[edit]

Some of the text in this entry was rewritten from Los Alamos National Laboratory - Phosphorus. Additional text was taken directly from the Elements database 20001107 (via, Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) (via and WordNet (r) 1.7 (via

Data for the table was obtained from the sources listed on the main page and Wikipedia:WikiProject Elements but was reformatted and converted into SI units.

Netscape 4.7 problem[edit]

Something about this page totally blows up in Netscape 4.7x. The side bar occupies the entire screen for some reason. - Dwmyers

Same with Seamonkey 2.011 --Bill Huston (talk) 15:43, 13 July 2011 (UTC)
It works fine for me under Windows Vista / both Firefox 5.0 & Windows Explorer (using a wide 16:9 screen / 1080P screen monitor) and on a normal (1024 * 768 pixels) screen using Firefox 5.0 under Windows XP. Pyrotec (talk) 16:00, 13 July 2011 (UTC)

Phosphor redirect[edit]

Is there some special reason for redirecting phosphor to this page? If not I will change it, as in modern usage phosphors have little to do with phosphorus --Roger 12:40 UTC, 1 Sep 2003

Phosphate esters[edit]

Phosphate esters are nerve poisons

Would someone care to expand/explain that (or provide a WikiLink). IIRC, DNA contains phosphate esters, and I doubt it is a nerve poison. 15:13, 2 Aug 2004 (UTC)

Disambiguation with Phosphorus (morning star)[edit]

The element Phosphorus is one of the most typical things someone might look up in a dictionary, whereas the Greek name for a star is one of the most obscure. It is general practice to place non-significant disambiguation notices at the bottom of pages, rather than at the top where it is the first thing someone would see, due to that fact that it is unlikely in the extreme that someone looking for the obscure entry would not expect that the item they are looking for would be a mere footnote -- both figuratively and literally -- in the article in question. And by the way, the only articles that link to Phosphorus (morning star) are, in fact, Phosphorus and morning star.

Thanks, BCorr|Брайен 18:08, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a dictionary, but that's besides the point.
I agree: the element phosphorus is bound to be looked up more often than Phosphorus meaning Venus and so that article should take priority (in terms of where the user is taken when they search). However, Wikipedia is not designed to be used purely by Wikipedia editors or those clued up with its conventions (nor those willing to take the time to discover them), but by anybody who wants quick and helpful access to a topic. Is such a person likely to expect to find a footnote at the bottom of the element article - I certainly don't think so. I would have thought such a person would give up at that point and look elsewhere. I don't think such a person would expect the topic they're searching for to be a footnote to something entirely different. However, if the 'dab' (is that an official term?) is at the top of this article, this certainly isn't a problem.
I think it's poor practice - even if it is a general practice - to place disambiguation notices (I don't see why their 'significance' is a factor; either they're so insignificant they don't merit an article, or they do and hence shouldn't be hidden away) at the bottom of articles, since this makes the task of the user so much harder, whereas surely an encyclopedia should strive to make access to information as easy as possible.
How relevant the links to the page are I'm unsure: I would have thought many people access information by entering search terms, rather than coming from a different page, and so will not have the clarification of the article's name you seem to imply.
--Owen&rob 22:09, 22 Sep 2004 (UTC)


Can someone explain to me how 50mg = fatal dose if the recommended daily allowence = 800mg? [2] I assume I'm missing something... fabiform | talk 03:11, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I think the toxicity depends on the chemical form (e.g., orthophosphate vs. white phosphorus). The 50mg statement really needs to be qualified. P.Riis 16:43, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)
Thanks, that makes sense. I'll leave it to a chemist to fix the article. :) fabiform | talk 19:26, 7 Oct 2004 (UTC)
50 mg is the minimal oral lethal dose for man, of white phosphorus (the P4 allotrope); the phosphorus in food and organism is in form of phosphate (P5+, such as (PO4)3-).-- 22:55, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

What is the 4th Allotrope?[edit]

"Phosphorus exists in four allotropic forms: white (or yellow), red, and black (or violet)." I make that 3. Can anyone explain please? --Dumbo1 18:26, 12 May 2005 (UTC)

Violet phosphorus is different from black phosphorus. Violet phosphorus doesn't conduct electricity while black does. Black phosphorus also exists as different allotropes, orthorhombic i think is one, and amorphous.

There is possibly also a green allotrope although it is not certain. --Kyp 10:41 4 july 2007

Paragraph on isotopes[edit]

The paragraph about Phosphorus' isotopes looks a 'bit' inappropriate to me:


The springfield isotopes are the best baseball team in america, and are named the isotopes due to the nuclear power plant being in controll of them. Isotopes of phosphorus include cheesecakes and fuel economy. Also, jesse mcartney is gay and his music is pathetic.

I don't want to touch it myself since I know nothing of the subject.

--Graniitti 09:51, 31 May 2005 (UTC)

In case of obvious recent vandalism simply look through the history and revert to an earlier good version. (done that) Femto 14:39, 31 May 2005 (UTC)

extraction of the allotropes.[edit]

i'm a lil' confused. there was a question in one of our papers saying- "HOW DO YOU SEPARATE YELLOW PHOSPHORUS FROM RED PHOSPHORUS?"

Please sign your name.

You don't separate them; white (yellow if you prefer) is converted into red. I've started to discuss the industrial processes in the Albright and Wilson article, but its far from completed yet.Pyrotec 17:12, 29 June 2006 (UTC)

I'm not sure whether you're trying to ask how to separate a mixture of the two or how phosphorus is produced. White phosphorus is made by heating phosphates with carbon and then this can be converted to red phosphorus. If you had a mixture of the two and wanted to separate them, you could expose it to air or oxygen and the white (yellow) phosphorus would oxidize to form phosphorus pentoxide. If this mixture was then washed with water, the P4O10 would dissolve leaving you with red phosphorus. You could also try solvent extraction if you wanted to leave the white phosphorus intact. The two allotropes should have different solubilities in most solvents.-- 19:26, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

Smoking stool syndrome[edit]

Re: citation needed - Incredibly, looks credible. There's Simon FA, Pickering LK. Acute yellow phosphorus poisoning: smoking stool syndrome. Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 235 No. 13, March 29, 1976 - Anybody got access, and expand a bit on the facts please? Femto 12:47, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Yellow phosphorus[edit]

the stub lacks any mention of yellow phosphorus - this is a very blatant omission

Please sign your name. Anyway your statement is not true: white phosphorus and yellow phosphorus are the same. Pyrotec 17:05, 29 June 2006 (UTC)
I have added a comment about white and yellow phosphorous being the same to the article. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:15, 2 February 2007

Notable Characteristics[edit]

The first part of this section discusses only the properties of white phosphorus, but refers to it as "common phosphorus." This seems confusing. Any ideas on how to fix it?-- 19:28, 8 July 2006 (UTC)

Numbers! We need numbers![edit]

Global demand for fertilizers led to large increases in phosphate (PO43-) production in the second half of the 20th century.
Today phosphorus production is larger than ever

Such statements are, unfortunately, fairly useless without giving estimates for the production and use of phosphorus. That production is "larger than ever" isn't a surprise, considering the population of the world today. Did phosphorus production grow faster than that? Faster than real GDP?

RandomP 14:59, 20 September 2006 (UTC)

Misinformation about white phosphorus[edit]

In article, it is stated, that:

"White phosphorus glows in the dark and is highly explosive..."

that is not true; P4 is highly flammable, and self-igniting upon contact with air (pyrophoric), but not explosive, unless intimately mixed with a strong oxidizing agent (such as solid chlorate, nitrate or permanganate). Thus, I change the sentence as follows:

"White phosphorus glows in the dark, is highly flammable and pyroforic (self-igniting) upon contact with air..."-- 23:02, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

occurence of phosphorus[edit]

At the shores of the baltic sea white phosphorous can be found. It is some times mistaken for amber and ignites in the pockets of the people collecting it. A big amount 40% of all phosphorous bombs for the rocket factory in Penemünde was thrown into the baltic sea as dubs in the big attack 1943. Is it worth mentioning? [3] [4] --Stone 15:46, 8 November 2006 (UTC)

Phosphorous metal?[edit]

Phosphorus is a nonmetal. Some sources however talk of "phosphorous metal"...

e.g. "a flame retardant that contains phosphorus metal" (in an e-mail I got)

or: "Reade Advanced Materials offers: Phosphorus Metal (Never found in nature)" (I'm not trying to promote this site)

or: "There is no restriction on the metal contained in the inorganic solid powder. It may be, for example, Mg, Al, P, ..."

I unsuccessfully turned to wikipedia to find further information on this. I suspect it is probably just sloppy nomenclature and some of the known, non-metallic P allotropes is meant. Or they mean lumps of P, not powder? Or they talk about alloys containing P. If I am wrong, and none of this is meant, maybe someone more knowledgeable could add some explanation in the article. -- 14:41, 16 July 2007 (UTC)

You are right Phosphorus is a non-metal. The cause of these errors is sloppy editing in your published examples. The flame retardant is a phosphorous salt; elemental phosphorus is never found in nature; sloppy patent writing: the following paragraphs in the patent talk about metals or metal oxides and specific examples of several phosphates are given - elemental phosphorus is unlikely to provide the desired effects.Pyrotec 18:54, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

Most such references really mean "elemental phosphorus" which is the usual term. I just tried some Google searches and found 519 hits for "phosphorus metal", 714 for "metallic phosphorus", and 63 400 for "elemental phosphorus". However Hittorf's red-violet phosphorus was initially described (in 1865) as "metallic". As modern textbooks describe it simply as red (or violet), I presume it is actually non-conducting. Dirac66 18:16, 17 August 2007 (UTC)


Which variety of spelling is this article supposed to be in? At the moment it contains elements (no pun intended!) of both, which is clearly unsatisfactory. --John 20:37, 20 September 2007 (UTC)

As a week has gone by without anyone expressing an interest, and based on this version, I deem that this article was originally written in British English and I will edit the current article to conform to that. --John 19:00, 28 September 2007 (UTC)
I also regard it as British English - all my edits in 2006 & 2007 were in British English.Pyrotec (talk) 17:11, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
The spelling of phosphorus is not covered in Wikipedia:WikiProject_Chemicals/Style_guidelines, but probably should be. I believe the IUPAC standard is phosphorus. Note that the term, phosphorOus refers to acid of the phosphite ion (that is, phosphorous acid), and is a distinct meaning from the elemental name. Karl Hahn (T) (C) 18:17, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Sorry, this was an old thread, I misread the diffs. This conversation did not refer to the name, which is phosphorus, but the spelling of certain words in the article, e.g. odor or odour, fertilizer or fertiliser. We went for the British versions not the US versions, as the article was original written in UK English.Pyrotec (talk) 19:57, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Nevertheless, the spelling, "phosphorous," does occur several times in the article. While you are editing to adopt the British spellings, it would be good to fix this as well. Karl Hahn (T) (C) 20:00, 16 January 2008 (UTC)
Thanks. I found three occurances, but this one: "At today's rate of consumption, the supply of phosphorous is estimated to run out in 345 years.[12]" appears to be the only incorrect spelling - now being changed.Pyrotec (talk) 20:10, 16 January 2008 (UTC)

phosphorus is never found as a free element in nature?[edit]

The second paragraph of the article states that phosphorus is never found as a free element in nature. This is not quite correct, because P can be present in some regions of the universe in atomic or ionized form, i.e., in regions of warm (T~10e4 K) gas associated with star-formation and also with active galactic nuclei. I suggest that the original statement be qualified in some way.

Another suggestion would be to include somewhere, perhaps in the information bos on the right hand side of the article, a mention of the abundance of P on earth and in the solar system. The solar system abundance of P is actually what I came to this page searching for.

AJH. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:58, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

For your first point, I have added the words "on Earth" to the statement in question. Dirac66 (talk) 03:34, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

I came on this page for the same reason.. Pages for other minerals often include info where that element can be found in universe.. -- (talk) 16:52, 28 February 2010 (UTC)

from citizendium[edit]

Phosphorus is a chemical element with the atomic number Z = 15. Unlike other elements in group VA of the periodic table, phosphorus is never found as a pure element in nature, but only in combination with other elements.

It is present in all living organisms in the form of organophosphates and as calcium phosphates such as hydroxyapatite (Ca10(PO4)6(OH)2) and fluoroapatite (Ca10(PO4)6F2), substances found in teeth and bones. Many cell signaling cascades in living organisms operate by a series of phosphorylation events in which a phosphate group (PO4)2− is either added to a protein by a kinase or removed from a protein by a phosphorylase.

Both red phosphorus and tetraphosphorus trisulfide are used in common matches because they are easily ignited by heat. However, the agricultural industry is the largest user of phosphorus in the form of fertilizers.

The radioactive isotope 32P is used to radiolabel compounds for scientific studies. Phosphorus and arsenic share many chemical properties.

Allotropes of phosphorus[edit]

File:Phosphorus P4 atomic structure.jpg
Structure of white phosphorus.

Both phosphorus and arsenic have many allotropes, but only the white and red forms predominate.

  • White phosphorus and yellow arsenic both have four atoms arranged in a tetrahedral structure in which each atom is bound to the other three atoms by a single bond. This form of the elements are the least stable, most reactive, more volatile, less dense, and more toxic than the other allotropes. The toxicity of white phosphorus led to its discontinued use in matches. The crystal melts at 44 0C and has a density of 1.83 kg/L. The liquid boils at 280 0C.
  • Red phosphorus: here one of the bonds in P4 described above has been broken, and one additional bond is formed with a neighboring tetrahedron.
  • Black phosphorus is made of even larger aggregates and is the least reactive allotrope. It is also known as β-metallic phosphorus and has a structure somewhat resembling that of graphite.
  • The diphosphorus allotrope, P2, is stable only at high temperatures. The dimeric unit contains a triple bond and is analogous to N2.
  • Violet phosphorus (also known as Hittorf's or α-metallic phosphorus) is obtained by crystallization from molten lead. Its density (2.34 kg/L) is higher than that of white phosphorus.


one of the disease that a High level of phosphorus is

Bone Disease & chronic kidney diseases

If you have too much phosphorus in your body it can create bone disease which can cause the kidneys to fail. When you have that your kidneys will stop pumping the phosphorus out of your body. With all that phosphorus in your body it will make your calcium levels drop and your Parathyroid gland in your neck will be really weak and will cause pain over a long period of time. When your Kidneys do work it takes the Vitamin D form your body and moves into active form, but when they don’t work you can’t take in the amount of vitamin D in your body.

this is my resource that i got my info from [ ] —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:09, 16 October 2008 (UTC)

Shouldn't Phosphorus also be in Category:Biology and pharmacology of chemical elements ?[edit]

Shouldn't Phosphorus also be in Category:Biology and pharmacology of chemical elements ? Eldin raigmore (talk) 18:35, 16 May 2009 (UTC)

Sublimation temperature of red phosphorus[edit]

Regarding boiling/melting points of red phosphorus, according to the Merck index 12ed (perhaps the canonical source on chemical facts), red phosphorus sublimes at 416C. This fact is not clear in the article. In fact the melting point appears higher than the boiling point which will certainly confuse the reader. This omission is potentially dangerous for anyone who might want to take red P above 416C and relies on this source as a guide. Also the triple point stated, which is also from the Merck index, is only for red phosphorus, not any other allotropes. This is also not clear in the article. (talk) 16:38, 10 June 2009 (UTC)IA

This confusion is caused by the elementbox template not having parameters for a second boiling point, and so an editor has attempted to add in data for both allotropes using parentheses (unfortunately it is unclear that that is what's intended). I've added recognition of a second boiling point parameter, so white/red phosphorus should no longer be confused here. I'll look into splitting up the triple point as well.
Having said that, though, depending on Wikipedia as a source for performing potentially dangerous laboratory experiments is very unwise... Being an encyclopedia that anyone can edit, IMNSHO it would be the reader's own naïvety if an accident happens due to not double-checking Wikipedia data with a more reliable source.—Tetracube (talk) 17:13, 10 June 2009 (UTC)
I agree that one should *not* rely on Wikipedia for lab experiments, but if we can make the resource clearer and more reliable we should. This is especially true since this has been classed as an "important" page. In any case, I attempted to add that red P sublimes at 416C in the main text, citing the Merck index, but an editorial decision was evidently made to remove it. This is clearly important information about the nature of these materials and their similarity to other pnictides, for example arsenic which sublimes at around 617C. (talk) 22:28, 10 June 2009 (UTC)IA

Many thanks to Tetracube for fixing the elementbox (could you please tell me how did you do that ? maybe on my talk page). As to the sublimation temperature, it is undefined. Phosphorus will sublimate well below 416 C and everyone who knows what sublimation is will never bring it to 590 C under "normal" conditions. Stating 416 C in the text will not solve the safety issues, and I agree with Tetracube on that. Neither WP nor the Merck index should ever be treated as an operational guide. Numbers are not a substitute for safety education. Materialscientist (talk) 23:31, 10 June 2009 (UTC)

Wait, but if 416°C is not the sublimation temperature, then what is it?—Tetracube (talk) 01:24, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

I'm not sure I understand the question. It is sublimation temperature, and it is lower than melting temperature. This is common for volatile materials. Their melting is observed under special conditions (e.g. under water layer for phosphorus, to prevent sublimation). "Sublimation temperature" is ill undefined as substantial material evaporation will start much earlier (like acetone nominally boils at 56 C, but quickly evaporates at room temperature). Thanks for elementbox hints! Materialscientist (talk) 01:39, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

The sublimation temperature is the temperature at which a solid is in equilibrium with its vapor at a standard partial pressure (such as 1 atm). It is not ill defined, as long as the pressure is specified. --Itub (talk) 12:53, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

Thank you. The P-T definition is certainly accurate. The point I tried to make is that melting and sublimation temperatures are often a poor guide for safe handling of chemicals. Materialscientist (talk) 23:11, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

naming of allotrop[edit]

Is purple phosphorus or violet phosphorus the (more) common naming in english? Regards, Achim1999 (talk) 11:16, 26 July 2009 (UTC)

put a cost[edit] (talk) 19:23, 15 February 2010 (UTC) how are people goin to know how much phosphorus costs if it it dont say but the rest is perfectly fine because it has all the info everybody would be looking for like a gram a pound.etc.

Discovery of Phosphorus[edit]

Phosphorus was actualy made in Roman times when early scientist had the theory that something with the same color as another they could turn it into the other. so scientist colected urine from military barracs and other places in order to "create" gold.

Reviews to be used in this article[edit]

Nergaal (talk) 22:01, 24 August 2010 (UTC)

I have a strong feeling that this page is up for a major review...[edit]

"Phosphorus is a key element in all known forms of life." Nope. Not according to the ongoing webcast from NASA. They have a living microbe that replaced its phosphorus with arsenik. /Michael S. Denmark —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:29, 2 December 2010 (UTC)

Read careful!!!!!!!! Substitute partly phosphorous in the DNA! This means most of the phosphorous is still in place in ATP RNA and all the lipides.--Stone (talk) 19:59, 2 December 2010 (UTC)
Yep-- let's see them grow a totally phosphorus-free bug. It isn't even proven yet if the arsenic-containing molecules "work" at all. Maybe they just sit there. We don't know, yet. SBHarris 02:14, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

It wasn't grown, it was discovered. I hope this page needs to be edited. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:57, 3 December 2010 (UTC)

It was indeed grown to get the large amounts of arsenic. In its normal environment in Mono Lake, there is lots of arsenic in the water, but not as much as there is phosphorus. The bacteria naturally in the water there, do not contain nearly as much arsenic as they had to put into lab culture to get this effect, along with very little phosphorus. SBHarris 05:08, 4 December 2010 (UTC)
This claim has since been refuted. I'm deleting it from the article. littlebum2002 20:00, 16 October 2012 (UTC)

Peak Phosphorus[edit]

Who comes up with this kind of crap? It's junk science, at best, and baseless fear mongering at worst. It has no place in an encyclopedia, even if one can point to reference sources.QuicksilverT @ 05:44, 2 January 2011 (UTC)

Lots of urine?[edit]

Did Brand really use 1,100 L of urine? If not, then this should probably be written 1.100 L. GrimFang4 (talk) 02:19, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

He had extracted 60g of phosphorus, thus it was not 1 but 1000 L. Wikipedia uses decimal separators in the US style, but it could well be dropped in this case. Materialscientist (talk) 03:17, 8 February 2011 (UTC)
Sounds good. This info is very tough to find online (I still haven't) and the reference, "Parkes and Mellor", is quite ambiguous. That really is a lot of urine. I'd estimate it took something like 500 man days. GrimFang4 (talk) 13:56, 27 February 2011 (UTC)
"Parkes and Mellor" is not ambigous it is fully defined, but I will change it to harv type ref. Pyrotec (talk) 14:13, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

Orientation of the article, July, 2011[edit]

The article was and remains highly focused on the elemental forms of phosphorus. My strong impression is that these forms of the element are modest in import relative to phosphates and phosphoric acid. The production is highly focused on elemental forms, the intro highlights the allotropes also. --Smokefoot (talk) 01:21, 6 July 2011 (UTC)

I'm not sure what point you are making. The article is entitled Phosphorus, so that is was it is about. Phosphorus is an element which is not found naturaly other than as compounds, so it is valid to discuss its preparation, its use (& former uses), its isotopes and physical and chemical properties. As a "chemical article", a discussion of its compounds is to be expected, but there are separate articles for many of its compounds (see Category:Phosphorus compounds), and for Phosphoric acid, so it is quite valid to summarise these and provide links to the separate articles using {{Main}} and/or {{See also}}. Why should an article on Phosporus be mostly about phosphates and phosphoric acid, just because that reflected in their ecconomic importance, they have their own articles? Pyrotec (talk) 07:44, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
Thanks. I used to share your opinion, but now I think that your views are not in tune with the intention of the element articles (or, alternatively, it is I that is out of tune!). The element articles are about the main source/use/history of anything containing the element as a dominant component, not the elemental form. If readers want to know about the uses of the element phosphorus, we dont want to delude them into thinking that white or red phosphorus is very really dominant, they should know that 99% (maybe I am exaggerating) of phosphorus occurs and is used as phosphate and such oxides. The article on lithium, similarly, should not be about lithium metal but about the minerals that are sources of Li+, the compounds of Li (i.e. not the metal), and the applications of Li+ materials. The manual of style for elements articles is:
1 Characteristics
1.1 Physical
1.2 Chemical
1.3 Isotopes
1.4 Occurrence
2 Production
3 Compounds
4 History
5 Applications
6 Biological role
7 Precautions
Sections 1.1 and 1.2 are allocated to the properties of the element. For some elements, say Ti, the dominant uses involve the metal in which case #2 (production) and #5 (applications) would emphacize the production and use to Ti metal. Also the elemental forms of phosphorus have individual articles on the allotropes of phosphorus, most of which have no apps. I will raise this point with the element MOS since consensus is uncertain.--Smokefoot (talk) 11:29, 6 July 2011 (UTC)
OK, I can agree with you that Phosphorus as an element can be "handled" (not literally) as other reactive elements, such as Sodium, Potassium, Clorine, Fluorine, Lithium, etc, and that most members of the public would not encounter these particular elements in elemental form. I'm also happy to go along with the manual of style for elements articles. I'm not a member of Elements WP, and your WP aught not to be claiming ownership rights (possibly that is simply an error on my part). The article was in a sorry state at one time, so it was my intention to bring it up to WP:GAN; and I would still like it to gain GA. From the contributions history here I've made more edits than any other editor (at 100, almost twice the contribution of any other editor), but my progress is slow since I've spent almost five years on and off. My main interest in phosphorus is its history and industrial use (and in particular elemental P), so the bias on elemental properies is a part due to me, I never got much further and other editors have now added compounds. The industrial history of phosphorus is (simplified) white P for matches, safer alternatives for matches, war-like purposes, then food additives, toothpaste ingrediates, detergents, plasticisers, metal finishing, etc, etc. I'm not claiming ownership anyway. I would like to see it make GA, but my contributions preclude me from reviewing it at WP:GAN, when/if it gets there, but I'm very happy to help it get there. Pyrotec (talk) 21:28, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
You are welcome to contribute again or send me a message if you have suggestions or concerns. I originally thought that the article should really emphasize the most common form of the element (phosphates) but another editor (see Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Elements/Guidelines) suggested that the element pages should in fact emphasize the elemental forms. So I think that we are striking a decent balance presently. The article mentions that phosphate fertilizers are a dominant application and that phosphates dominate the mineral forms of the element, but we give good coverage of the elemental forms. The history section, your area of interest, needs help so I hope that you can work on that in the future. Here is some info on the usage of white P from Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Industrial Chem:
83% of P4 for H3PO4
half H3PO4 goes for detergents
half H3PO4 goes for food/feed&pharma and some for metal treatment
17% of P4 for PCl5, PCl3, POCl3, P4S10, red-P, P4O10, Mg3P2, phosphor bronzes
The article probably should reflect these realities. There seems a sensationalist emphasis on P-based poisons (sarin) and weapons/warfare, and, correspondingly, an under-emphasis on P in life sciences. I guess its easier to write about/google poisons and warfare, but the ATP-DNA-RNA-phospholip piece has a far bigger role in our lives. Best wishes,--Smokefoot (talk) 23:24, 8 July 2011 (UTC)
  • I have already expressed my concerns on Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Elements/Guidelines. There were "poor"/unacceptable uses of phosphorus and that including white phosphorus matches, white phosphorus bombs and polyphosphate detergents. We try not to do such things nowadays, but they were important (and profitable) and "white washing" them out of history/the article does not seem an honest approach. The thermal method (rock to white P and sometimes pure acid) completed for possibly one century against the wet process (rock to impure acid to pure acid) until the energy price rises of the 1960/70s, but thermal methods are being "white washing" out of history/the article. Pyrotec (talk) 00:34, 9 July 2011 (UTC)

The 'History and discovery' section may be improved[edit]

The two first paragraphs should be consolidated, as the second reiterates information already mentioned in the first. — Preceding unsigned comment added by PlaySharp (talkcontribs) 10:14, 14 August 2011 (UTC)


{{editsemiprotected}} Section Oxides, final para, "phosphorous(V)" is misspelt and should become "phosphorus(V)". (talk) 00:10, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

Fixed. Thanks. Materialscientist (talk) 00:42, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

Should the beginning not also read "13th element discovered" rather than 15th?

Fixed, thanks. Materialscientist (talk) 04:27, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

{{editsemiprotected}} "History and discovery": 5th paragraph: "White phosphorus could be then be made by heating..." Scrap one of the 'be's.

Fixed, thanks. Pyrotec (talk) 15:06, 27 January 2016 (UTC)

Red Phosphorus[edit]

This is a small point, but the section on red phosphorus states that it ignites below 260 C; this should be 'above' 260 C or 'does not ignite' below 260 C. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Gigabake (talkcontribs) 21:34, 7 November 2011 (UTC)


In the quick info table at the top of the article, the phase row is missing under Physical Properties. According to the rest of the information shown, I'd assume it's a solid; is that correct? →Twentydragon 23:25, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

Yes, solid (see images), added to the box. Materialscientist (talk) 23:32, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

rigby:) — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:19, 17 February 2012 (UTC)


Random Reader here. Under "Occurence", we are told that Albright and Wilson used phosphate rock from Connetable, Tennessee, and Florida ... should this be "Connecticut", and not a French sardine brand? It links to "Constable". The Threfall reference is in the closed stacks of the local library, and I can look it up eventually, but not soon. This probable typo has been there since September 6, 2006 . KeithLofstrom (talk) 17:18, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

(Hi, Keith!) No, this is undoubtedly a reference to "Connetable phosphate rock," a hiqh quality phosphate mineral mined in the Îles du Connétable (Constable Islands) off French Guiana. Perhaps the ultimate origin of the rock is guano. I'm still looking at it. Certainly it should be clarified by a link, even a pipelink, in this article. SBHarris 20:34, 25 March 2012 (UTC)
(Thanks, Sbharris!) I did get a moment and the librarians were quick, and I found the reference on page 51 of the Threlfall book, to "the Connetable" in the list of American phosphate sources. So the article as written, though obscure and perhaps linked badly, is not wrong. Should I learn to link it correctly to the "Îles du Connétable" stub, or do you want to fix this? KeithLofstrom (talk) 22:11, 25 March 2012 (UTC)
In this case, a direct link works well enough. If you wanted to use the English version of the name (hardly necessary here) you would do it with a piped link: like "the Connetable Islands". Note there's already an automatic redirect from Constable Islands. Anything at all can go after the piped direct to the stub, but stuff that is too far off, like replacing this with "certain non-American phosphate sources", is frowned on, and considered by purists too much of an easter egg piped link. SBHarris 23:49, 25 March 2012 (UTC)

Phosphorus production improper balanced reaction equation[edit]

Section production, reaction involving Ca3(PO4)2, should be changed from: 2Ca3(PO4)2 + 6SiO2 + 10C --> 6CaSiO3 + 10CO + 4P4 to 2Ca3(PO4)2 + 6SiO2 + 10C --> 6CaSiO3 + 10CO + P4 (as there are only 4 P atoms before the reaction which form only 1 P4 tetrahedron, not 4 P4 tetraheadra)

Corrected, thanks. Materialscientist (talk) 00:39, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
In the equation before that, the reaction is not reduction. It's dehydration to the metaphosphate.
Yes check.svg Done thanks for catching that. --Smokefoot (talk) 04:09, 24 February 2014 (UTC)
Already done Apparently already done by Smokefoot. — {{U|Technical 13}} (tec) 04:21, 24 February 2014 (UTC)

Proposal to change spelling of this article[edit]

Is being discussed here. Materialscientist (talk) 04:30, 20 June 2012 (UTC)

Credits to Lavoisier[edit]

Why? Please see this thread. Materialscientist (talk) 00:19, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

Ridiculous statement[edit]

Superphosphate of lime is a mixture of two phosphate salts, calcium dihydrogen phosphate Ca(H2PO4)2 and calcium sulfate dihydrate CaSO4·2H2O "

Umm, how is the second salt listed here, a phosphate salt ? Eregli bob (talk) 12:53, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

Corrected. (I think.) – S. Rich (talk) 13:45, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
Yes, you've corrected it. What was written was not necessarily ridiculous, it might in part be vandalism or just carelessness. This article first states that superphosphate is produced by treating phosphate rock with sulfuric acid; and later, in the Applications / Fertiliser subsection it states that "Superphosphate of lime is a mixture of two phosphate salts, calcium dihydrogen phosphate Ca(H2PO4)2 and calcium sulfate dihydrate CaSO4·2H2O ". That was wrong, but if "phosphate" was replace by "calcium" it would not be wrong. If the reaction products from the reaction between the rock and the acid are just dried and washed to remove excess acidity, then what remains is a "commercial product" consisting of various calcium phosphates and sulfates. If the intended use is agricultural then it hardly matters that the product is not pure calcium dihydrogen phosphate. Purifying the produce to separate the phosphate and sulfates would greatly add to its cost. All that is needed in the article is to add the qualifying phrase, commercial grade in front of "Superphosphate of lime is a mixture of ......" and the statement is completely consistent. Pyrotec (talk) 13:59, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
Whew -- I'm glad I didn't screw up! I leave it to you to fix these more technical details. Thanks. – S. Rich (talk) 14:06, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

Edit request on 15 October 2013[edit]

Dear, the CAS number is not completely right. Only the one for P (red) is listed P (red) 7723-14-0 P (white) 12185-10-3 (see,

Greetings (talk) 12:08, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done, my dear. — Reatlas (talk) 13:09, 15 October 2013 (UTC)

Black phosphorus[edit]

Why there is so little information about it? What is it boiling point, hardness and electrical conductivity? (talk) 10:26, 26 October 2013 (UTC)

I dunno. This is especially inexplicable because black P is the most stable allotrope! Is white or red P a standard, so that authors usually quote P's properties as the white P or red P values? Double sharp (talk) 11:56, 26 October 2013 (UTC)

I searched more precise properties of black phosphorus and found very less information. Course of black phosphorus is neglected. Comparison betwwem most metallic allotropes of P and Se is very interesting. We con compre also chemistry of Se and P. Which is more nonmetallic? They are so similar to categorise only selenium as metalloid, maybe in most cases phosphorus looks more metallic. (talk) 13:00, 26 October 2013 (UTC)

Compound of P and Se is named phosphorus selenide, not selenium phosphide. In all electronegativity scales phosphorus have lower electronegativity than selenium. Selenium has higher electronegativity than hydrogen, but phosphorus lower. Phosphorus is definately "aggrieved" in many periodic tables. Grey Se has wider band gap than black P. Metallic allotrope of P has also higher melting point. I typed in search engine phrase "phosphorus is a metalloid" and there were only THREE (3) results! For "selenium is a metalloid" - above TEN THOUSANDS MORE (34400), for "carbon is a metalloid" - 43,900, "iodine is a metalloid" - 1, "hydrogen is a metalloid" - 5, "sulfur is a metalloid" - 2. (talk) 13:39, 26 October 2013 (UTC)

An article about black phosphorus:

There is written that black phosphorus have very low (as a nonmetal) electrical resisitivity (6 * 0,001 ohm/cm). Compound named as "PGe0,03" is far much more conductive. (talk) 09:54, 28 October 2013 (UTC)

Phosphorus minerals not all fossils[edit]

Phosphorus minerals are not necessarily fossils. Please look up mineral phosphates: Triphylite, Lithiophilite, Monazite, and others. <ref>Manual of Mineralogy, Klein and Hurlbut, 20th Edition, Co 1977 John Wiley and Sons</ref>

It may be possible that the original phosphorus source was biological, but there are practically never any remnant fossil forms where these minerals are crypto-crystalline masses. I have studied a triphylite phosphatite in the Llano Uplift area of Central Texas, which is most likely the result of hydrothermal action. It is notably, very close to or is in contact with gneiss and granite of the Town Mountain Suite. This occurrence is about 10 miles of an exposure of the Green Mountain formation, which is in contact with a fossiliferous white phosphatite that appears to grade into limestone. The Green Mountain fm. is glauconitic (a silicate) with phosphatic lenses, and is fossiliferous. Above that is the Iron Mountain fm., which resembles a completely oxidized section of the Green Mountain in which small "bug" tests are visible in hand samples. (Exposures in and around the S. Branch of Morgan Crk. on the east side of Lake Buchanan near Burnet, Texas.) In a great leap of faith, I might guess that the "bug" shells in the Green and Iron Mountain fms. provided the bio-phosphorus to the triphylite phosphatite, reworked by hydrothermal fluids from the late magmatics of the Town Mountain intrusives. It may be more likely from the white phosphatite, but still a leap. The triphylite phosphatite rock is completely crystalline in the exposure where the it was sampled. (talk) 03:31, 8 February 2014 (UTC)T. E. Munson

Phosphorus in fertilizers[edit]

They didn't spell the fertilizer right. Not to mention the massive run-on sentences. The sentence structure has like 3 "because" in it. The article should have some discussion of, or at least links to, use of phosphorus in fertilizers (and maybe other important uses of phosphorus) 2001:700:700:8:BAAC:6FFF:FE2B:860E (talk) 08:44, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

The applications section of the article emphasises this "dominant" use. Phosphorus#Applications. --Smokefoot (talk) 15:43, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
Would be grateful if dated your comments properly. See if you like the article now. Grammar's Li'l Helper Discourse 22:04, 12 May 2016 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 26 September 2014[edit]

Phosphorus plant in Netherlands (Thermphos) was closed in 2013. (talk) 20:10, 26 September 2014 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done removed mention of the plant, seemed a very weird addition in the section anyway. Cannolis (talk) 04:52, 27 September 2014 (UTC)

Phosphorus nitrides[edit]

Phosphorus has several different geometries for the +5 oxidation state. It has the typical tetrahedral geometry that is seen in phosphoric acid and phosphoramine/phosphoramide, with a double bond and three single bonds, but it also has a geometry with a triple bond and two single bonds, and a geometry with two double bonds and a single bond, which are pyramidal, and it also has a geometry with a triple bond and a double bond, and it's bent. Phosphazenes have the tetrahedral geometry, but reaction of alcohols and amines with PN can make a variety of interesting ester/amine linear polymers that have the pyramidal geometry and tend to twist into a helical structure. The species H2PN, F2PN, Cl2PN, etc have similar geometry. An example polymer is [CH2OPNOCH2]n, where the phosphorus is triple bonded to the nitrogen and single bonded to two oxygen ester bonds. It can be made by reacting ethylene glycol with phosphorus nitride gas, forming hydrogen, or by reacting ethylene glycol with Cl2PN, forming hydrochloric acid. The edit I made actually gave a different example but mentioned the three main possibilities: two ester bonds, two amine bonds, and one ester and one amine bond. Perhaps there are also direct organophosphorus compounds, like dimethyl phosphorus nitride, (CH3)2PN as well. I'm fairly certain the phosphorus +5 state with a triple bond and two single bonds gives a pyramidal geometry. I'm also fairly certain the phosphorus +5 state with a triple bond and a double bond, like in NPO, OPPO, or HNPN gives a bent geometry. And then that makes me wonder about HOPO2, a +5 state with two double bonds and a single bond and pyramidal geometry. And then I wonder if a real "phosphonitrile" polymer could also be made, where the triple bond is to carbon rather than nitrogen, and the carbon has one other functional group. The other two bonds of the phosphorus could be carbon, nitrogen, or oxygen (or sulfur). A phosphonitrile polymer would likely start as an organic nitrile, like isopropyl cyanide, and reaction with phosphorus nitride gas would replace the nitrogen with the phosphorus, forming isopropyl phosphonitrile and nitrogen gas. The triple bond can open up to a double bond to create a phosphene polymer, or addition of ethylene can form poly methyl/ethyl isopropyl phosphonitrile polymers. Zuloo37 (talk) 09:14, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

Many good books discuss phosphorus chemistry. Still very relevant is the chapter in Greenwood & Earnshaw's Chemistry of the Elements ISBN 0080379419. Many small molecules are only of theoretical interest, e.g. HPO, PN, and HPO2. Thinking up various rings, cages, and polymers and even weird monomers can be stimulating exercise but be careful to keep such musings on talk pages. --Smokefoot (talk) 17:50, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

Organic source[edit]

I have a problem with the use of organic for bone ash and guano. It is always a inorganic phosphate, not a organic molecule. Organic for coming from the biosphere in contrast to industrial made is a use more for marketing. Is it better to call it akumulated from biological processes or something like that? --Stone (talk) 09:48, 4 April 2015 (UTC)

British/International English?[edit]

The article is written in British English but uses the American spelling "sulfur" (and "sulfurous", etc). Is this because this is the IUPAC spelling, or should this be changed to "sulphur"? — Paul G (talk) 13:45, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

It's because "sulfur" is the IUPAC spelling. Per WP:SULF, articles on chemistry-related topics should use sulfur and its derivatives even if they are otherwise written in British English. (Chemistry articles in American spelling must similarly use the IUPAC spellings aluminium and caesium, even though those are British spellings). Double sharp (talk) 14:26, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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US-specific section?[edit]

I don't think "US DEA List I status" deserves or needs its own section. -DePiep (talk) 01:05, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

Agree. Should be merged into the parent section. Sandbh (talk) 02:48, 21 November 2015 (UTC)
...or even less. pinging Emily Temple-Wood (NIOSH)@. -DePiep (talk) 20:44, 21 November 2015 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Phosphorus/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

*Some images would be nice.

Last edited at 12:21, 13 November 2008 (UTC). Substituted at 02:54, 30 April 2016 (UTC)