It slowly reacts with cold water to form phosphorous acid; but with hot water it is energetically decomposed, giving much red phosphorus or the suboxide being formed with an explosive evolution of spontaneously inflammable phosphoretted hydrogen; phosphoric acid is also formed.
With water it gives sulphur, sulphuretted hydrogen, hydrobromic, phosphorous and phosphoric acids, the sulphur and phosphorous acid being produced by the interaction of the previously formed sulphuretted hydrogen and phosphoric acid.
Of phosphoric acid, the cereal crops take up as much as, or more than, any other crops of the rotation, excepting clover; and the greater portion thus taken up is lost to the farm in the saleable product - the grain.
Although, therefore, different, and sometimes very large, amounts of these typical mineral constituents are taken up by the various crops of rotation, there is no material export of any in the saleable products, excepting of phosphoric acid and of potash; and, so far at least as phosphoric acid is concerned, experience has shown that it may be advantageously supplied in purchased manures.
The acid is very deliquescent, and oxidizes on exposure to air to phosphoric acid.
The increased importance of Germany and Luxemburg may be referred in large part to the invention of the basic Bessemer and open-hearth processes by Thomas, who by them gave an inestimable value to the phosphoric ores of these countries.
In the reduction by stannous chloride the solution of the ore in the flask is heated to boiling, and a strong solution of stannous chloride is added until the solution is completely decolorized; then 60 cc. of a solution of mercuric chloride (so grammes to the litre) are run in and the contents of the flask poured into a dish containing 600 cc. of water and 60 cc. of a solution containing 200 grammes of manganous sulphate, i litre of phosphoric acid (1.3 sp. gr.), 400 cc. of sulphuric acid, and 1600 cc. of water.
The reason for this is that in it the slag, by means of which all the purification must needs be done, is not heated effectively; that hence it is not readily made thoroughly liquid; that hence the removal of the phosphoric slag made in the early dephosphorizing stage of the process is liable to be incomplete; and that hence, finally, the phosphorus of any of this slag which is left in the furnace becomes deoxidized during the second or deoxidizing stage, and is thereby returned to befoul the underlying steel.
He explained and simplified the process of obtaining phosphorus from urine, and made some admirable observations on phosphoric acid; but though he noted the increase in weight that attends the conversion of phosphorus into phosphoric acid he was content to remain an adherent of the phlogistic doctrine.
In the ordinary chemical analyses of the soil determinations are made of the nitrogen and various carbonates present as well as of the amount of phosphoric acid, potash, soda, magnesia and other components soluble in strong hydrochloric acid.