Gandhak (Sudh)

English Name



Gandhaka is sulphur (S), a non-metallic solid element.


Samskrta : Bali, Daityendra, Gandha, Sugandhaka, Valī, Sugandhika

Regional Name

Assami - Kibrīt, Bangali - Gandhaka, English - Sulphur, Gujarati - Gandhaka, Hindi - Gandhaka, Kannada - Gandaga, Malayalam - Gandagam, Marathi - Gandhaka, Punjabi - Gandhaka, Tamil - Kandagam, Kantakam (S.F.I.), Telugu - Gandhakam, Urdu - Kibreet (Gandhak) (N.F.U.M.)

Broad Classification

Native element

Origin and occurrence:

Native Gandhak occurs in the craters and crevices of extinct volcanoes where it has been deposited as a direct sublimation product from volcanic gases. It also occurs around thermal springs, in salt dome cap-rocks and in sedimentary sequences that contain sulphates along with organic materials like bituminous limestone. Gandhak is frequently associated with gypsum and limestone. Native Gandhak, which is contaminated with sand or clay, bitumen and such foreign matter, is purified by melting in oven or by distilling in closed vessels. In India, the deposits of Gandhak are very much limited. The only known occurrence is that of Tsokar Lake, Leh district in Jammu and Kashmir. There is no mining for Gandhak in India. Elemental Gandhak, however, is recovered commercially as a by-product from fertilizer plants at Panipat in Haryana, Naya Nangal and Bhatinda in Punjab and Oil Refinery at Mathura in Uttar Pradesh. There are huge deposits of elemental Gandhak burried underground in certain parts of the world especially Poland, Mexico and USA.

Physical Properties

Nature : Crystalline lumps, Colour : Sulphur yellow, Streak : Yellowish white, Cleavage : Poor, Fracture : Conchoidal, Lustre : Resinous, Tenacity : Brittle, Transparency : Translucent, Hardness : 1.5 to 2.5, Sp. Gr. : 1.95 to 2.10

Chemical Properties:

Effect of Heat:
  • On burning a small quantity in a crucible, Gandhak partially melts with evolution of brownish sulphur fumes.
  • Gandhak melts at about 1100 where as it burns at 2700 in air with a bluish flame yielding sulphur-di-oxide (SO2). Solubility: Insoluble in water as well as any acid, but soluble in carbon-disulphide. Assay: Should contain not less than 90% Sulphur, when analysed by gravimetric method (Appendix-3.1.8). Heavy metals and Arsenic: Should not contain more than the stated limits for the following: Arsenic = 1 ppm and Cadmium = 2 ppm (Appendix-3.2).


Shall not be used in formulations without subjecting it to śodhana. Śodhana: [ Ref: Rasām¨tam-2/3] i) Gandhak : 1 part ii) Go-dugdha or Bhrngarāja rasa (Pl.) : Q.S Method: Take fine powder of Gandhaka in a ladle, add little amount of ghrta, melt and pour in to the vessel which contains go-dugdha or bhrngarāja svarasa. Collect on cooling to room temperature, wash with plenty of luke warm water, dry, prepare the fine powder and preserve for further purpose.

Properties and Actions

Rasa - Madhura, Katu, Tikta, Kasāya, Guna - Usna, Sara, Snigdha, Vīrya - Usna, Vipāka - Katu, Karma - Rasāyana, Dīpana, Pācana, Visahara, Kaphahara, Balya, Medhya, Pittala, Caksusya, Krmihara, Sūtajit, Kusthahara, Amasosahara, Sūtendravīryaprada, Vātahara,

Therapeutic Uses of śuddha Gandhaka

Kandū (itching); Kustha (diseases of the skin); Visarpa (erysepales); Dadru (taeniasis); Āmavāta (rheumatism); Kapha roga (disease due to kapha dosa); Garavisa (slow/accumulated poison); Plihā roga (splenic disease); Ksaya (pthisis); Kāsa (cough); Śvāsa (Asthma); Netra roga (diseases of eyes); Vāta roga (diseases due to Vāta dosa)


125 mg - 1 g of śuddha Gandhak.

Important Formulations

Mahāgandhaka vatī, Pañcāmrta parpatī, Candrakalā rasa, Tarunārka rasa, Rasa parpatī, Gandhaka rasāyana.

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