Mustard gas, also called sulfur mustard, gets its name from its sometimes yellow appearance and mustardlike smell. It’s referred to as a blister agent or a vesicant, and comes in vapor, solid or liquid form. Other blister agents include nitrogen mustard, lewisite and
As you might have picked up, mustard gas is very dangerous, especially compared to tear gas. If you measured mustard gas on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the scariest, mustard gas would come in around a seven. Compared to Zyklon-B, the gas pellets used in gas chambers during the Holocaust, mustard gas seems tame. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t caused its fair share of fatalities. A little bit later on, we’ll look at some of the devastation mustard gas brought on during warfare.
Mustard gas comprises four elements found on the periodic table: carbon, sulfur, chlorine and hydrogen. The sulfur and carbon lend to the gaseous appearance and smell in both solid and liquid states. The exact molecular formula is C4H8Cl2S.
In its crude state, mustard gas resembles used motor oil: heavy and sludgy. Because of a relatively high freezing point of 58 degrees Fahrenheit (14 degrees Celsius), mustard gas proved a less effective weapon in colder temperatures. It wouldn’t spread throughout a large area, and it would fall to the ground before troops inhaled the deadly gas.