Vani’s Musings

White Phosphorous

Posted on: January 2, 2007

WP is a colorless to yellow translucent wax-like substance with a pungent, garlic-like smell. The form used by the military is highly energetic (active) and ignites once it is exposed to oxygen. White phosphorus is a pyrophoric material, that is, it is spontaneously flammable).

 When exposed to air, it spontaneously ignites and is oxidized rapidly to phosphorus pent oxide. Such heat is produced by this reaction that the element bursts into a yellow flame and produces a dense white smoke. Phosphorus also becomes luminous in the dark, and this property is conveyed to “tracer bullets.” This chemical reaction continues until either all the material is consumed or the element is deprived of oxygen. Up to 15 percent of the WP remains within the charred wedge and can re ignite if the felt is crushed and the unburned WP is exposed to the atmosphere.  

Phosphorus is an element, the name derived from the Greek “phosphoros” or light bearing, the ancient name for the planet Venus when appearing before sunrise. Brand discovered phosphorus in 1669 by preparing it from urine. Phosphorus exists in four or more allotropic forms: white (or yellow), red, and black (or violet). Ordinary phosphorus is a waxy white solid; when pure it is colorless and transparent. White phosphorus has two modifications: alpha and beta with a transition temperature at -3.8°C. It is insoluble in water, but soluble in carbon disulfide.


Never found free in nature, Phosphorus is widely distributed in combination with minerals. Phosphate rock, which contains the mineral apatite, an impure tri-calcium phosphate, is an important source of the element.

 White phosphorus may be made by several methods. By one process, tri-calcium phosphate, the essential ingredient of phosphate rock, is heated in the presence of carbon and silica in an electric furnace or fuel-fired furnace. Elementary phosphorus is liberated as vapor and may be collected under phosphoric acid, an important compound in making super-phosphate fertilizers.  

 P S: What inspired me to name this blog “White Phosphorous”? White, Symbolizing Peace, and “Phosphoros” from Greek, meaning light bearing. 


12 Responses to "White Phosphorous"

Thanks for that info. WP is used in variety of products: Crackers, Toothpaste, Fertilizers, Food additives, Pesticides, Sodium Lamps, Chinaware, Baking Powder, Production of Steels, to name a few.
I hope Vani’s Musings, WHITE PHOSPHOROUS, becomes a light bearing blog. Good luck.

Informative Vani, Let Light of knowledge continue and eliminate the darkness of ignorance

Good going , All the best

Good info 🙂 N even better reasoning for the chosen name 😉

Best of luck with the white , bright weblog!

bowled over about the name and why that name!!

Hey good going Vani… I liked the color combinations! Even I was wondering why the name but your explanation made sense 🙂

Hi Vani! Welcome to the blogosphere! And happy blogging! 🙂

where is my comment boss? I wrote 2 lines in kasturi kannada 🙂

Bellur- Thanks, Great Trivia

Usha, Diya, Mohan,Prashanth, Sanjay, Shruthi, Veena:

Thanks for all the good words.
Hope to see your continued support.

Veena – Your KK (Kasturi Kannada) Comment is on another post.

Since I dont have a facility to write in kannada, I cannot reply back to you.

Good start Vani. Wish you great time here 🙂

hi Vani,
Very Very fantastic thiking abt ur blog name and reason to name it. Its really beautiful.

And abt today’s news letter, what u say is very true. Today the world has become very compitative and the pressure is much on children. Schooling has become a burden for both children and parents also.

Good thinking and looking forward for more xiting things in ur blog.

Good Start Vani, Get going!!!!!!!!

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