Red phosphorus exists as an amorphous network. It crystallises when heated to high temperature and it does not ignite in air at temperatures below 240 ˚C. However, ignition is spontaneous at room temperature for fine, red phosphorus particles. Red phosphorus is stable under standard conditions.
Red phosphorus is manufactured by heating white phosphorus to 300 ˚C in the absence of air or by exposing white phosphorus to sunlight.
1) Used to make the strike plate of matchboxes. The friction produced when the match head makes contact with the strike plate generates heat. This causes a small amount of red phosphorus to change back to white phosphorus, which burns spontaneously in the air. As a result, the match head lights up.
2) Used as flame retardant when added to plastics, rubber, and resins.
3) Usually mixed with a binder to be used in flares as it helps to ignite and sustain the burning of flares, that can be used for signaling or illumination.
1) Fertilizers made with red phosphorus are effective in promoting plant growth, proper root development, and flower and seed production. Plants fertilized with phosphorus-based fertilizers become resistant to diseases and pest invasion. This type of fertilizer can help plants synthesize proteins more effectively, which in turn, can ensure better growth and development.
2) Pesticides: Used as pesticides to protect crops.
Medical Industry: Used to produce methamphetamine by combining red phosphorus with elemental iodine, which results in the production of hydriodic acid (HI). The hydriodic acid is then used to convert ephedrine or pseudoephedrine to methamphetamine.