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The word arsenic was borrowed from the Syriac word(al) zarniqa and the Persian word زرنيخ Zarnikh, meaning "yellow orpiment", into Greek as arsenikon (Αρσενικόν). It is also related to the similar Greek word arsenikos (Αρσενικός), meaning "masculine" or "potent".
White arsenic, Arsenious acid;
French: Acide arsenieux, Arsenic blanc;
German: Arsenige Saeure, Weisses Arsenik
One part of finely powdered, vitreous arsenious acid is boiled to complete solution in sixty parts of distilled water, and filtered.
Minerals; Inorganic; Column Five
Allen's Encyclop. Mat. Med. Vol. I 496.
Description of the substance
Arsenic trioxide can be generated via many routine processing of arsenic compounds including the oxidation (combustion) of arsenic and arsenic-containing minerals in air. Illustrative is the roasting of orpiment, a typical arsenic sulfide ore.
2 As2S3 + 9 O2 → 2 As2O3 + 6 SO2
Most arsenic oxide is, however, obtained as a volatile by-product of the processing of other ores. For example, arsenopyrite, a common impurity in gold- and copper-containing ores, liberates arsenic trioxide upon heating in air. The processing of such minerals has led to numerous cases of poisonings. Only in China are arsenic ores intentionally mined.
Arsenic trioxide is an amphoteric oxide, and its aqueous solutions are weakly acidic. Thus, it dissolves readily in alkaline solutions to give arsenites. It is less soluble in acids, although it will dissolve in hydrochloric acid, giving chloro compounds, ultimately arsenic trichloride with concentrated acid. Only with strong oxidizing agents such as ozone, hydrogen peroxide, and nitric acid does it give arsenic pentoxide, As2O5. Reduction gives elemental arsenic or arsine (AsH3) depending on conditions. In this regard, arsenic trioxide differs from phosphorus trioxide which readily combusts to phosphorus pentoxide.