Sulphur, Eggs and Matches - Sulphur Project
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Sulphur, Eggs, and Matches

Chicken egg

To check out some sulphur for yourself, take an ordinary chicken egg and hard-boil it for about twelve minutes. Then break it open and smell the yellow yolk. That's the smell of hydrogen sulfide - a molecule made of hydrogen and sulphur. Now you can eat the egg for lunch (try it with mayonnaise!) and get that good sulphur inside you to build new cells!

You will also be able to smell sulphur (actually a molecule made of sulfur and oxygen) by lighting a match. Any kind of match will do, but make sure you don't set anything on fire with your match! We use sulphur in matches because if you rub phosphorus and sulphur together, they'll burst into flames. We put sulphur on the match and phosphorus on the box, and you mix them together when you strike the match. Does the match smell kind of like the egg?

a lit match

It's not an accident that sulphur is in both matches and eggs. Sulphur is a kind of atom that mixes very easily with oxygen. That's good for making fires, because when sulphur mixes suddenly with oxygen it makes a flame, and we can use that to start a fire. And it's also good for making new living cells, because when cells need oxygen they can pull it out of the air by mixing it with sulphur.


More about Sulphur

Bibliography and further reading about sulphur:

Sulphur
Molecules
Chemistry
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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