What are the solvents for sulfur

Carbon disulfide (English: carbon disulfide, Common name: Carbon disulfide, CS2) is by far the most important carbon sulfide.


Carbon disulfide is a colorless, in its pure state pleasant like ether, but due to impurities almost always very unpleasant smelling, strongly refractive and extremely flammable liquid. Carbon disulfide is a good solvent for iodine, sulfur, selenium, and white phosphorus, among others. Since carbon disulfide is easily soluble in fat, it is easily absorbed through the lungs and skin. Longer exposure leads to symptoms of poisoning: acute carbon disulfide poisoning manifests itself in facial flushing, euphoric states of excitement, then unconsciousness, coma and respiratory paralysis; chronic carbon disulfide poisoning through repeated prolonged inhalation results in headaches, insomnia, memory, vision and hearing disorders, nerve inflammation and vascular damage.


Carbon disulfide has a standard positive enthalpy of formation (for liquid CS2: ΔHf = + 89.7 kJ / mol), the synthesis from the elements is thus an endothermic reaction. When it breaks down into the elements sulfur and carbon, the compound can release the corresponding amount of energy again. However, the decay does not occur spontaneously because it is a metastable compound. The synthesis from the elements took place until the 1950s with the exclusion of air by transferring sulfur vapors over glowing charcoal at 800 - 1000 ° C. Nowadays, CS2 synthesized from alkanes and sulfur at 600 ° C in the presence of catalysts. This reaction also produces the highly toxic gas hydrogen sulfide, which, however, is further processed industrially.

Usage and reactions

Carbon disulfide is used in large quantities for the production of cellulose fibers from cellulose, whereby the cellulose is first converted with caustic soda to alkali cellulose and this is processed after the oxidative degradation with carbon disulfide to the xanthate soluble in caustic soda. The resulting cellulose solution, also called viscose, is spun into regenerated cellulose in sulfuric acid spinning baths. It is a solvent for fats and is used in infrared spectroscopy because it has no disruptive hydrogen or halogen bands. The yellow copper xanthates release toxic carbon disulfide when they decompose and are used for pest control. With ammonia, primary and secondary amines, dithiocarbamates are formed. The reduction with sodium in dimethylformamide gives the disodium salt of dmit, short for dimercaptoisotrithione, a starting compound for the production of sulfur-rich heterocycles and substituted tetrathiafulvalenes. When boiling with aqueous sulfide solutions, trithiocarbonates are formed. Carbon disulfide has the same refractive index as glass and is used, for example, to detect counterfeit diamonds. Often carbon disulfide is also produced naturally, for example during putrefaction processes.


White phosphorus dissolved in carbon disulfide was used in incendiary bombs.


Carbon disulfide gives a yellow dithiocarbamate with diethylamine in the presence of copper salts.


  1. abcdef Safety data sheet (alfa-aesar)
  2. BGIA-Gestis hazardous substance database

Categories: Flammable Substance | Toxic substance | Carbon compound | Sulfur compound