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Why is white phosphorus not soluble in water?

  1. May 17, 2012 #1
    White phosphorus is not soluble in water. But won't it react with water when you put it in to water. Its highly strained and should react immediately.
    And why is red phosphorus not soluble both in water and orgnaic solvents. If its nonpolar it should be soluble in organic solvents
  2. jcsd
  3. May 18, 2012 #2
    Red phosphorus is polymeric, as memory serves. So that pretty much explains its lack of solubility in water and - at least to some extent - other solvents.

    White phosphorus can form its acid products when exposed to water and air under certain conditions, although slowly and there runs the risk of ignition if you stray from those particular conditions. I don't think it's polymeric, but it is rather waxy in nature, and I recall is a bit more amenable to typical organic solvents.

    And that's about all of the phosphorus chemistry I can recall at the moment.
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