Atomic number: 53
Year discovered: 1811
Discovered by: Bernard Courtois (1777-1838), a French chemist.
- Courtois was in the business of manufacturing potassium nitrate (needed in the making of gunpowder).
- He got it from potassium carbonate (potash), which in turn he got from seaweed.
- He isolated iodine from treating seaweed ash with sulphuric acid while recovering sodium and potassium compounds.
- One day, in 1811, he added too much acid and, on heating, he obtained a beautiful violet vapor.
- After condensing the vapor, he found dark, lustrous crystals.
- Iodine is a bluish-black, lustrous solid.
- Courtois suspected it might be a new element and he passed it on to other chemists for confirmation.
- It was a new element, and Humphry Davy suggested that it be named “iodine”, from the Greek word for “violet”.
- It volatilizes at ambient temperatures into a pretty blue-violet gas with an irritating odor.
- It forms compounds with most elements, but is less reactive than the other halogens, which displace it from iodides.
- Iodine exhibits some metallic-like properties. It dissolves readily in chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, or carbon disulphide to form beautiful purple solutions.
- It is only slightly soluble in water.
- Iodine compounds are important in organic chemistry and very useful in medicine and photography.
- In humans, not having enough iodine often results in goiter.
- The deep blue color with starch solution is characteristic of the free element of iodine.
- It is assimilated by seaweeds from which it may be recovered, and is found in Chilean saltpetre, caliche, old salt brines, and salt wells.
- Iodine is available commercially so it is not normally necessary to make it in the laboratory.
- Iodine occurs in seawater but in much smaller quantities than chloride or bromide.
- With suitable sources of brine, it is recovered commercially through the treatment of brine with chlorine gas and flushing through with air.
- In this treatment, iodide is oxidized to iodine by the chlorine gas.
Name in other languages:
Information about other elements may be seen at this Chemical Elements List.
A special unit about words that include chemo-, chem- may be seen here.