Iodine Wonders- Napoleonic Wars and Secret Rains (Post No.5666)

Written by London Swaminathan

Date: 15 November 2018

GMT Time uploaded in London –15-33
Post No. 5666

Pictures shown here are taken from various sources including google, Wikipedia, Facebook friends and newspapers. This is a non- commercial blog

Iodine is one of the 118 elements and has the Atomic Number 53 in the Periodic Table. There are very interesting titbits about this Common element. All of us know about tincture iodine that is applied on injuries and wounds. But there are more roles played by iodine in the fields of photography, artificial rain, treatment for goitre. Iodised salt, Napoleons interest in iodine, controversy about who discovered iodine, Chernobyl and thyroid cancer and foods rich in iodine.

Let me give some interesting information first

Secret tests carried out by the British defence department caused the death of 31 people in Lyn mouth in 1952. The experiment was done to see whether they can stop advancing enemy tanks in the battle field by creating floods. They tried to produce artificial rain by seeding the clouds with silver iodide. It caused sudden floods in West of England causing natural disaster.

Silver iodide can be used to seed the cloud and thereby initiate rainfall. One gram of silver iodide can provide trillion seed crystals around which water vapour condescend into water and fall to earth as rain .

Chemical details
Chemical symbol ‘I’ ( I for India, I for Iodine)
Atomic number 53
Melting point 114 degree C
It is a black, shiny, non-metallic element and belongs to halogen group in the Periodic Table.

Chernobyl and Thyroid Cancer
Radioactive iodine-131 was released into atmosphere following Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986. Though the isotope has a half-life of eight days it was picked up by grazing animals. The milk from those animals and the water with the isotope caused thyroid cancer in lot of children. Potassium iodide tablets can counter the bad effects of this isotope, but it was too late for Chernobyl people.

Iodine in photography
In 1839, Louis Daguerre used it in photography. He used a piece of plated silver which had been exposed to iodine vapour. That formed the light sensitive silver iodide. The stronger the light, the more silver iodide was converted back to silver metal. The iodine formed in this was washed resulting in a positive image. Later they replaced it with a wet plate with silver iodide film on glass.

400000 tonnes from the sea
About four lakh tonnes of iodine escape from the oceans every year as iodide in sea spray or as iodine produced by marine organisms. When they are deposited on land micro organisms, fungi and other plants pick some of it and the rest reaches the sea again through river water.

Iodine is used in many industries
Pharmaceuticals account for 25%
Animal feeds 15%
Printing inks and dye s 15%
Industrial catalysts 15%
Photographic chemicals 10%
Miscellaneous uses 20%

Iodine is turned into iodide s of silver, titanium , potassium and zirconium in these industries.

Iodine and Napoleon

Iodine was discovered as an indirect result of the Napoleonic Wars of the early nineteenth century. British navy blockaded France in an effort to cut off the supply of saltpetre—potassium Nitrate —that was needed to make gunpowder. A cottage industry sprang up quickly to supply the saltpetre. Bernard Courtois, a chemist, made saltpetre from seaweed ash. In this process, he saw some beautiful crystals and gave it to two friends. At the end Joseph Gay Lussac proved it as a new element and named it Iode, from the Greek ‘iodes’ meaning violet like.

Iodine crystals produce purple fumes when they are heated.

English man Humphrey Davy confirmed it. English said that he discovered it. This controversy lasted for 100 years. The French celebrated the discovery of iodine in 1913. Napoleon gave permission to English man Humphrey Davy to visit Paris even though the two countries were at War. Davy was given a sample of iodine and he worked on it in his hotel room using his travelling chemistry set.

Iodine in Medicines

In 1820, Dr Jean Francois Coindet used iodine solution and potassium iodide for treating goitre. He knew sea weed which was used in goitre treatment contained iodine. Though his medicine failed to treat goitre it was found a good germs killer. It was used to treat open wounds. This is tincture iodine.

Iodine is needed in the first three months of pregnancy for the development of baby’s nervous system. Body needs iodine for its proper function. Most of it is in the thyroid glands in the neck. Thyroid glands produce two hormones, Thyroxine and Tri iodo thyronine, which regulate several metabolic functions including body temperature. Too little iodine in the body results in goitre— swollen neck— feels cold, dry skin, tiredness and even depression. Too much iodine results in hyperthyroidism with its associated restlessness and hyper activity

Iodine is found in large quantity in natural conditions in Chile, Colorado ,New Mexico in America
It is produced from natural brine and oil well brine. Chile and Japan produce 70% of iodine in the world

Every one of us needs iodine and it is in seaweed, cabbage, mushrooms, fish and oysters. Where ever iodine deficiency is, iodised salt is used in food. India and other countries use iodised salt.

— Subham—

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: