Phosphorus Facts for Kids

The Periodic Table - Phosphorus
  • Name: Phosphorus
  • Symbol: P
  • Atomic Number: 15
  • Atomic Weight: 30.973762 u
  • Period: 3
  • Group: 15 (nitrogen group)

29 Phosphorus Facts for Kids

  1. Phosphorus is a chemical element on the periodic table.
  2. Phosphorus was discovered in 1669 by German merchant, pharmacist and alchemist Hennig Brand. However, it wasn’t recognized as a chemical element until 1777 by French nobleman and chemist Antoine Lavoisier.
  3. The symbol for phosphorus is P.
  4. The atomic number for phosphorus is 15.
  5. The standard atomic weight of phosphorus is 30.973762 u.
  6. Phosphorus is a solid at room temperature.
  7. Phosphorus is in the reactive nonmental element category on the periodic table.
  8. Phosphorus is a period 3 chemical element, which is the third row on the periodic table.
  9. Phosphorus is a group 15 chemical element, which is the nitrogen group.
  10. Phosphorus is in the p-block on the periodic table.
  11. The electron configuration for phosphorus is 3s2 3p3.
  12. The electrons per shell for phosphorus are 2, 8, 5.
  13. Phosphorus has one stable isotope.
  14. Phosphorus’s one stable isotope is 31P.
  15. The melting point for white phosphorus is 111.5 °F (44.15 °C).
  16. The boiling point for white phosphorus is 536.9 °F (280.5 °C).
  17. Phosphorus is the 11th most abundant chemical element in the Earth’s crust.
  18. The composition of the Earth’s crust contains 0.105% phosphorus.
  19. The striking match was invested in 1830 by French chemist Charles Sauria.
  20. The first striking match used white phosphorous and other chemicals to ignite the match by striking it.
  21. The use of white phosphorus in matches was banned in 1906 with the ratification of the Berne Convention.
  22. Modern day matches, also known as safety matches, use phosphorus sesquisulfide (P4 S3).
  23. Phosphor bronze is a copper alloy that contains between 0.01 and 0.35% phosphorus.
  24. The compound monocalcium phosphate (Ca(H2PO4)) 2 is commonly used in fertilizers and as a leavening agent in the food industry.
  25. The compound dicalcium phosphate (CaHPO4) is commonly used in toothpaste as a polishing agent and as a dietary supplement in many different types of food.
  26. The compound sodium triphosphate (Na5 P3 O10) is commonly used in commercial detergents and as a preservative in food.
  27. The compound phosphoryl chloride (POCl3) is commonly used in plasticizers and flame retardants.
  28. The compound phosphorus pentasulfide (P2S5) is commonly used in pesticides and as an additive in lubricates.
  29. White phosphorus has been used by militaries around the globe since World War 1. It is used in incendiary device in bombs, grenades and rockets. White phosphorus is also used to illuminate a battlefield, create smoke to mask the movement of troops or in tracer rounds to track the direction of weapons fire.

Additional Resources on Phosphorus

  • Phosphorus (P) – Discover more about the chemical element phosphrous on the Los Alamos National Laboratory website.
  • Phosphorus for Kids – Find more information about the chemical element phosphorus for kids on the Britannica Kids website.
  • Phosphorus and Your Health – Learn about the benefits and/or risks of phosphorus to your health on the National Institute of Health website.
  • Phosphorus – PubChem – Read more about phosphorus and the data behind it on the NIH PubChem website.