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Stibnite in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Category Sulfide mineral
(repeating unit)
Strunz classification 02.DB.05a
Crystal symmetry Orthorhombic dipyramidal
H-M symbol: (2/m 2/m 2/m)
Space group: Pbnm
Unit cell a = 11.229 Å, b = 11.31 Å,
c = 3.8389 Å; Z = 4
Color Lead-gray, tarnishing blackish or iridescent; in polished section, white
Crystal habit Massive, radiating and elongated crystals. Massive and granular
Crystal system Orthorhombic
Twinning Rare
Cleavage Perfect and easy on {010}; imperfect on {100} and {110}
Fracture Subconchoidal
Tenacity Highly flexible but not elastic; slightly sectile
Mohs scale hardness 2
Luster Splendent on fresh crystals surfaces, otherwise metallic
Streak Similar to color
Diaphaneity Opaque
Specific gravity 4.63
Solubility decomposed with hydrochloric acid
Other characteristics Anisotropism: Strong
References [1][2][3]
Major varieties
Metastibnite Earthy, 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 metalloid antimony.[4] The name is from the Greek στίβι stibi through the Latin stibium as the old name for the mineral and the element antimony.[1][2]


  • Structure 1
  • Uses 2
  • Occurrence 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


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. It is grey when fresh, but can turn superficially black due to oxidation in air.


Pastes of Sb2S3 powder in fat[5] or in other materials have been used since ca. 3000 BC as eye cosmetics in the Middle East and farther afield; in this use, Sb2S3 is called kohl. It was used to darken the brows and lashes, or to draw a line around the perimeter of the eye.

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.[6]

The natural sulfide of antimony, stibnite, was known and used ever since protodynastic Ancient Egypt as a medication and a cosmetic. The Sunan Abi Dawood reports, “prophet Muhammad said: 'Among the best types of collyrium is antimony (ithmid) for it clears the vision and makes the hair sprout.'”[7]

The 17th century alchemist Philosopher's stone.[8]


Stibnite occurs in hydrothermal deposits and is associated with realgar, orpiment, cinnabar, galena, pyrite, marcasite, arsenopyrite, cervantite, stibiconite, calcite, ankerite, barite and chalcedony.[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.

As of May 2007, the largest specimen on public display (1000 pounds) is at the American Museum of Natural History.[9][10] The largest documented single crystals of stibnite measured ~60×5×5 cm and originated from different locations including Japan, France and Germany.[11]

See also


  1. ^ a b c Stibnite. Handbook of Mineralogy
  2. ^ a b Stibnite.
  3. ^ Stibnite. Webmineral
  4. ^ 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
  5. ^ Priesner, Claus and Figala, Karin, ed. (1998). Alchemie. Lexikon einer hermetischen Wissenschaft (in German). München: C.H. Beck.  
  6. ^ Pyrotechnic Chemical Guide. Retrieved on 2011-10-14.
  7. ^ Sunan Abu-Dawud (Ahmad Hasan translation). Book 32, Number 4050. 
  8. ^ Eirenaeus Philalethes and Carl Jung
  9. ^ "American Museum of Natural History, Spectacular Stibnite".  
  10. ^ "Chinese stibnite crystal on display in US". Retrieved 2009-06-06. 
  11. ^ P. C. Rickwood (1981). "The largest crystals" (PDF). American Mineralogist 66: 885–907. 

External links

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