Will sulfur hurt my ducks or geese?

Discussion in 'Ducks' started by raelee4, Jun 1, 2012.

  1. dotporter

    dotporter Songster

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    Well, I'm not going to hijack the thread over it, but you're right. I'm a bit preoccupied.

    The molasses was an old folk lore remedy someone passed on to me, but it Worked. I live in an area with soil coccidia (heavy clay and saturated soil) and without the molasses the coccidiosis was a huge issue. Even now, I'm careful not to cut my lawn short. Pulled weeds are disposed of where they aren't duck accessible. I raise areas of the yard which tend to puddle in heavy rain.

    And while it's not strictly pure sulfur in the molasses, the sulfur is the only thing in it that could possibly account for the success of the molasses in preventing coccidiosis outbreaks.

    I'm happy enough with the sulfur flour for preventing bird lice, mites, etc... But right now I've been a bit concerned that without sulfured molasses I'm going to be at the vets every week. I'd rather not. Believe me, before using molasses as a water additive it was a nightmare.

    Since the molasses itself was a folk remedy, I'd be happy enough to give a go to other folk remedies that might work. Onion and garlic do Not. So you're correct that I was not looking at it properly. Even according to the studies I've been reading, molasses hasn't got enough sulfur in it to make a difference. So, it's specifically the sulfur dioxide (ew). I mean, the ducks have never had any negative reaction to the molasses at all. But, sulfur dioxide. Ew.

    Ah well, off in another direction then. I wonder if I were to powder the WHOLE yard with sulfur? hmmm...
     
  2. PeterNaomiGray

    PeterNaomiGray In the Brooder

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    Sorry it took so long to reply...and I'll be brief (on the road with smartphone) Your comment "sulfur dioxide, ew!"is a good example of not getting it about compounds and elements, or about concentrations and toxicity. SO2 is generated by numerous natural and human processes, it's reactive and short-lived, and it's mildly toxic when inhaled. When molasses or something else is "sulfured," the SO2 reacts with water to form sulfuric acid, which is also harmless in low concentrations. I don't know the concentrations involved and neither do you, but I do know this kind of process has been used for decades if not centuries, and if there were significant health effects, they should have been noticed by now.
    It's annoying when people have such phobias about "chemicals," failing to grasp that _everything_ is made of chemicals. A distinction between natural and artificial ones is largely meaningless. Not that you've made all these errors, but the thinking is along those lines.
    And... I am NOT suggesting that we should neglect careful testing of food and product additives - only that we need to keep some perspective and a sense of scale.
     
  3. dotporter

    dotporter Songster

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    Oh, I'm sorry if you didn't understand me. I don't have a chemical phobia. I understand how chemicals work. The ew was more in reference to the fact that the only way I know of to replace that would be imported figs. Which is rather expensive. I happen to like figs, but the amount I would need is prohibitively expensive.

    Believe me, it's many centuries that sulfur dioxide has been used, dating back as far as Roman times. I believe it's even mentioned in the Odyssey? However, sulfur with water produces the rather harmless hydrogen sulfide which is found in most well water. Sulfur dioxide honestly is a product of burning sulfur. If I only had to put raw sulfur in water, that'd make things simple.

    Although, since I'm thinking of it, I've been considering reproducing the recipe for Icur Ficatum. It requires fattening the ducks with a specific combination of foods which chemically stimulate the winter metabolism, which produces a succulent bird whose liver is much like foi gras. Sulfured fig is a predominant part of the fattening agent.

    Maybe I'll look into that again.
     
  4. PeterNaomiGray

    PeterNaomiGray In the Brooder

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    Agreed on most of that, except that you have it backward about SO2 vs. H2S. It's all about concentration, but hydrogen sulfide is far from harmless: it's hundreds or thousands of times more lethal than sulfur dioxide. I used to work with huge quantities of both. Several workers in that plant were killed by H2S, none even close by SO2.
     
  5. dotporter

    dotporter Songster

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    http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/wells/waterquality/hydrosulfide.html
    I have a well. Hydrogen sulfide in water is relatively harmless.

    Hydrogen sulfide is the one produced by bacteria, in well water, etc... Hydrogen dioxide (edit, sulfur dioxide, not hydrogen dioxide) is from burning sulfur.

    I think that the entire miscommunication stems from the fact that you have industrial chemical experience, and my experience is entirely on farm. The two are very different. I believe you that hydrogen sulfide gas is deadly. But, I also know that the bacteria that create hydrogen sulfide can clog water systems (well pumps, water heaters, etc..). Thus, while we are both completely sure of our own information based on concrete experience, the two are completely different.

    Owning a well and not knowing that the rotten egg smell of hydrogen sulfide can mean either naturally occurring ground water hydrogen sulfide or it can mean bacteria (or, lord forbid, it can mean sewage contamination!).. well, that can be an expensive thing not to know.

    I've never had the opportunity to deal with hydrogen sulfide gas. I have had to deal with it in water. I'll defer to your experience that the industrial chemicals are quite different from what I'm used to dealing with.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2015
  6. PeterNaomiGray

    PeterNaomiGray In the Brooder

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    I don't mean to quibble, but there's no difference between farm and industrial when it's exactly the same molecule, and one more time: it's all about quantity or concentration. Hydrogen sulfide is H2S is hydrogen sulfide, no matter where it occurs or why.
    When you deal with it in water, it's dissolved, and when it comes out of solution it's a gas, which is why you can smell it.
    The only reason you believe H2S is harmless is that you've been exposed to it in extremely low concentrations. No matter whether it comes from bacteria or a factory; let it build up to something like 100 ppm, and it will kill you, somewhat more effectively than carbon monoxide. Compounding the lethality is the fact that we can smell H2S at extremely low (harmless) concentrations, but at deadly levels it saturates our olfactories and we stop smelling it and think it's gone.
    I've been in SO2 (which I assume you mean by "hydrogen dioxide," which is an impossible compound), at much higher levels than would be lethal with H2S, and it only caused a scratchy throat and temporarily burning eyes.
    You and I don't live in different chemical realities. From what I see, you're not accounting for the crucial issue of concentration, or the fact that in most cases "the dose makes the poison." That's what can lead to all sorts of inaccurate rumors and speculation.
     
  7. PeterNaomiGray

    PeterNaomiGray In the Brooder

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    Trivia note: humans can smell H2S at 0.5 parts per _billion, which is several hundred thousand times lower than a lethal dose. No doubt, that's to warn us away from places where enough H2S might build up, to be dangerous.
    Yes, I'm quite familiar with H2S as an indicator of problems in well water. The gas in that situation may be considered harmless, but only because it's in the 10ppb to 10ppb range.
     
  8. dotporter

    dotporter Songster

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    Sorry, you're correct that I meant sulfur dioxide. I was a bit distracted while writing.

    I was just pointing out that you said that I had the two reversed, and in fact I had them exactly as I meant them.
     
  9. PeterNaomiGray

    PeterNaomiGray In the Brooder

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    What I meant was that when you described SO2 as toxic and H2S as harmless, you had it backward. I stand by that, and if "H2S is harmless" is exactly as you meant it, that's simply wrong. Hydrogen sulfide was even used (briefly) as a poison gas weapon in WWI.
     

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