Sulphur is an essential mineral, as most proteins found in the body contain sulphur. It is also part of bodily fluids, fats and the minerals that make up the skeleton. Some bacteria need sulphur, in the form of hydrogen sulphide, to perform photosynthesis.
Another function of sulphur is to prevent fermentation when it is added in the form of sulphur dioxide to molasses. It is also added as a preservative for wine and was used as a fumigant as late as the late
19th century. Sulphur is also used to make sulphuric acid, and waste sulphur from refineries can be made into plastic. This plastic is used, among other things, in lithium-sulphur batteries.
Sulphur is also used to make fertilizer and is an ingredient in black gunpowder along with carbon and potassium nitrate. It is used to vulcanize rubber to make it tougher. Sulphur in the form of dimethyl sulfoxide, or DMSO, is used to treat bladder infections and is used to ease pain. The sulfur content in some mud baths is used to treat skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and warts. Sulphur is also used to ease the pain of arthritis. Some studies have found that DMSO is also useful in relieving the discomfort of shingles.