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Stibnite in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Chemical formulaantimony sulfide (Sb2S3)
ColorSteel gray to dull gray. Black iridiscent tarnish may be present
Crystal habitMassive, radiating and elongated crystals. Massive and granular
Crystal systemOrthorhombic
FractureSmall-scale subconchoidal
Mohs Scale hardness2
LusterSplendent on fresh crystals surfaces, otherwise metallic
Refractive indexOpaque
StreakSimilar to color
Specific gravity4.56 - 4.62
Solubilitydecomposed with hydrochloric acid
Major varieties
MetastibniteEarthy, reddish deposits

Stibnite, sometimes called antimonite, is a sulfide mineral with the formula Sb2S3. It forms grey orthorhombic crystals of hardness 2. It is the most important source for the rare metaloid antimony.


Formation and structure

Stibnite is formed from antimony(III) compounds with hydrogen sulfide. This reaction gives a black precipitate:

2 Sb3+ + 3 H2S → Sb2S3 + 6 H+

This reaction is reversed by hydrochloric acid.

Stibnite is attacked by potassium hydroxide solution and dissolves in solutions of polysulfide ions to give polysulfido complexes.[1] Related reactions were once used in university courses on qualitative inorganic analysis.

Stibnite has a structure similar to that of As2S3. The Sb(III) centers, which are pyramidal and three-coordinate, are linked via bent two-coordinate sulfide ions.


Stibnite is used to make fireworks, metal antifriction alloys, and batteries.[2] It was used as mascara by Queen Jezebel of the Old Testament (2 Kings 9,30) and is an ingredient of safety matches.[citation needed]


Small deposits of stibnite are common; large deposits are rare. It occurs in Canada, Mexico, Peru, Japan, China, Germany, Romania, Italy, France, England, Algeria, and Kalimantan, Borneo. In the United States it is found in Arkansas, Idaho, Nevada, California, and Alaska. Large iridescent stibnite crystals are found in Japan.[citation needed]

  As of May 2007, the largest specimen on public display (1000 pounds) is at the American Museum of Natural History.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Martin, T. M.; Schimek, G. L.; Pennington, W. T. and Kolis, J. W., "Synthesis of Two New Antimony Sulfide Clusters: Structures of [PPh4]2[Sb6S6] and [PPh4]2[Sb4S6]", Journal of the Chemical Society, Dalton Transactions 1995, 501-2.
  2. ^ Mineral Information Institute, Antimony. Mineral Information Institute. Retrieved on 2007-05-27.
  3. ^ American Museum of Natural History, Spectacular Stibnite. American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved on 2007-05-27.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Stibnite". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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