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Stibnite in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Chemical formulaantimony sulfide (Sb2S3)
ColorSteel gray to dull gray. Black iridescent 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. This soft grey material crystallizes in an orthorhombic space group. It is the most important source for the metaloid antimony.[1] The abbreviation for antimony, Sb, is taken from stibnite.

Formation, structure, reactivity

Sb2S3 forms when antimony(III) compounds are treated 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.[2] Related reactions were once used in university courses on qualitative inorganic analysis.

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


Stibnite has no significant uses, except as a precursor to antimony oxide, which is the most commonly marketed form of antimony. In ancient times, it was used as mascara called kohl.

Antimony trisulfide finds use in pyrotechnic compositions, namely in the glitter and fountain mixtures. Needle-like crystals, "Chinese Needle", are used in glitter compositions and white pyrotechnic stars. The "Dark Pyro" version is used in flash powders to increase their sensitivity and sharpen their report. It is also a component of modern safety matches. It was formerly used in flash compositions, but its use was abandoned due to toxicity and sensitivity to static electricity.[1]


Small deposits of stibnite are common, but 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][4]

See also


  1. Sabina C. Grund, K. Hanusch, H. J. Breunig, H. U. Wolf, “Antimony and Antimony Compounds” in Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry 2006, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim. doi:10.1002/14356007.a03 055.pub2
  2. 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.
  3. "American Museum of Natural History, Spectacular Stibnite". American Museum of Natural History. Retrieved 2007-05-27.
  4. 1000 Pound Stibnite!!

ca:Estibina cs:Antimonit de:Stibnit eu:Estibina it:Stibnite hu:Antimonit nl:Stibniet nds:Stibnit sk:Antimonit sv:Spetsglans uk:Антимоніт