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Antimony borders the transition between the metals and the non-metals. This silvery element's brittle nature gives the metallic form a flaky, crystalline texture. Chemically, antimony is very stable in air and is unaffected by acids and alkalis. It is also a poor conductor of heat and electricity.
Known since ancient times, the sulfide stibnite (SB2 S3) has long been used as eye makeup for its black colour. Today, antimony-based cosmetics are less common, but are still popular in Gothic traditions. Other antimony compounds serve as vermilion, yellow or blue pigments.
Antimony is also a principal constituent of lead and tin alloys. Lead's hardness and resistance to corrosion are greatly improved by antimony's inertness to acids and alkalis. As an additive to tin, antimony is important in the production of pewter and is used in applications such as metal bearings.
The toxicity of antimony and its compounds varies according to the chemical state of the element. The metallic form is considered to be relatively inactive whereas stibnite is extremely toxic to humans. Other antimony compounds are severe irritants, and cases of dermatitis have been reported.