Mineral Facts and Problems: 1960 Edition Page: 397
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By Henry E. Stippi
IODINE, an essential element in man's diet, has many industrial applications,
and its importance as a disease and infection preventive is noteworthy.
The halogen, iodine, was discovered about 150
years ago in solutions leached from the ashes
of seaweeds. In 1868, Chile began commercial
production of iodine as a byproduct of the
nitrate industry. Later it was discovered in
California waste oil-well brines and this source
now supplies a substantial part of the iodine
consumed in the United States. In 1958 the
United States consumed 1,195,000 pounds of
Iodine occurs in the nitrate deposits of Chile
as the minerals lautarite and dietzite. Concen-
trations of sodium iodate in the nitrate leach
solution are treated with sodium bisulfite to pre-
cipitate elemental iodine. In California iodine
is liberated from oil-well brines by chlorination
and blown from the brines by air. In another
method silver iodide is precipitated from Cali-
fornial oil-well brines with silver nitrate, and
treated with iron and water to liberate silver
and to form ferrous iodide. In Indonesia and
Japan iodine is recovered from brine by the
cuprous iodide, electrolytic, or active carbon
Two domestic producers furnish about one-
half of United States requirements. The re-
mainder is imported from Chile and Japan.
Iodine and its compounds have many and varied
uses in the fields of medicine, agriculture, and
industry. The use of radioactive iodine in
medicine and industry has increased in the past
few years. Consumption of iodine is expected
to increase owing primarily to expanding use
in medicine and pharmacy.
Problems affecting industry and government
are adjustment of domestic and free world for-
eign mining and processing capacity to peace-
time and defense requirements, the lack of
domestic iodine reserve data, the relatively high
cost of producing iodine, and the need for more
detailed statistical and economic data.
Iodine, one of the halogen group of elements,
was discovered by Bernard Courtois in 1811.
Courtois, a potassium nitrate producer in
France during the Napoleonic wars, precipi-
tated the element from nitrate solutions, ob-
tained by leaching the ash of seaweeds. The
noted chemist, Gay-Lussac, studied iodine's
properties and recognized it as a new element.
He named it iode, from the Greek word for
violet colored. The importance of iodine to
chemistry was established by the middle of the
19th century and substantial quantities were
produced from seaweed in France and Great
Britain. Commercial production of iodine
1 Commodity specialist.
from nitrate deposits in Chile began in 1868 and
a marked decline in the seaweed industry oc-
curred. Later (about 1929), natural brines be-
came an important source. Today, Chile is the
world's principal source; however, in the
United States iodine recovered from waste oil-
well brines in California furnishes a substantial
part of domestic consumption.
SIZE, ORGANIZATION, AND GEOGRAPHIC
DISTRIBUTION OF THE INDUSTRY
In the United States iodine is produced from
waste oil-well brines by Dow Chemical Co. with
plants at Seal Beach, Venice, and Inglewood,
Calif., and Deepwater Chemical Co., Ltd., with
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United States. Bureau of Mines. Mineral Facts and Problems: 1960 Edition, report, 1960; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38790/m1/405/: accessed May 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.