Q:

How is phosphorus extracted?

A:

Quick Answer

Phosphorus is extracted from phosphate rock that is combined with carbon in its purest form and sand in a high temperature furnace. The chemical reaction in the furnace becomes vapor that transforms into phosphorous when it is cooled down.

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Full Answer

Although extracting pure phosphorous is a difficult process, phosphorous is not primarily used in its purest form. Pure phosphorous is incredibly dangerous, and even a small amount in its powdered form can cause severe burns when touched and death when ingested.

Instead, phosphorous is most often used when mixed with other elements for various purposes. One of the most common uses for phosphorous is as a fertilizer. Many farmers use artificial fertilizer that consists of phosphate in addition to nitrogen and potassium-rich potash.

Plants are not the only living things that need phosphorous to survive. Animals also need phosphorous for survival, since it is used along with other chemicals to provide the body with energy.

Common items are also made with phosphorous. For example, phosphorous is a key ingredient to create the heads of matches. The phosphorous is what bursts into flame when the match is struck. The element is also essential for manufacturing different types of plastic and electronic items.

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