Simple Science

Uses Of Bromine

BrominePhoto by fdecomite

Bromine is a member of the halogens. The halogen family is a part of Group 17 (VIIA) of the periodic table. This table is a chart which shows how elements are related to each other. This group of elements is also known as the salt formers. Astatine, iodine, bromine, chlorine, and fluorine form salts when chemically combined with a metal.

In 1826, bromine was discovered at almost the same time by two men, French chemist Antoine-Jerome Balard (1802-1876) and German chemist Carl Lowig (1803-1890). Even though Balard announced his discovery first, Lowig just had not completed his study of the element when Balard made the announcement. This element has a number of great uses, and in this article we will mention all the important ones.

Water purification

Water purifier/disinfectant is one of the major uses of this element. Brominated compounds are used for water treatment in hot tubs as well as swimming pools. In addition, brominated compounds are also used to control bacterial and algae growth in industrial processes.



Bromine compounds are used in the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, which is one of their key uses. They are important ingredients of a number of over-the-counter and prescription drugs, such as antihistamines, sedatives, and analgesics. Furthermore, bromine compounds are active ingredients in a few drugs which treat cocaine addiction and pneumonia. Today, a few drugs, which contain bromine compounds, are undergoing trials for new generations of AIDS and anti-cancer drugs and for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.


Bromine compounds are great pesticides, used both as a fumigant to prevent pests from attacking stored grain as well as other produce, and as soil fumigants in agriculture, especially fruit-growing. World trade in agriculture goods significantly depends on the use of bromine compounds to ensure compliance with mandatory rules on quarantine.

Cars (past and future)

Bromine compounds were used in leaded fuel in the past, as a constituent of anti-knock fluid. But, since lead has gradually been removed from fuel, this use has declined. However, they are now being tested in batteries for electric cars, which are designed to produce zero emissions. Furthermore, those batteries can also be used as electricity storage devices.


Bromine compounds have many applications in photography. There are a few compounds which are used to make the light-sensitive component of a photographic emulsion. Therefore, without them photographs would not capture sufficient light. Additionally, other bromine compounds are used as an ingredient in the development of photos.

Flame retardants

Today, the most important use of bromine is in making flame retardant materials. A lot of materials used in making carpets, drapes, clothing, and drapes are flammable, and if a flame touches them, they burn very fast. By soaking them in a bromine compound, chemist have learned how to make materials more resistant to fires. This compound coats the material’s fibers. In addition, the bromine compound can be chemically incorporated into the material. The bromine compounds, which are used in flame retardants, are usually complicated. One of those compounds is called tris phosphate. This compound has been found to be a carcinogen, and for that reason, has been severely restricted.

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