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What is it?

Isibabuli is a Zulu word that means “something bubbling” possibly referring to a “volcano bubbling up sulphur” as this is how sulphur originated. Isibabuli is a bright yellow mineral substance known as sulphur (sulfur) powder. The fine powdered substance is tasteless and ubiquitous with an odour that ranges from mild to none. It is insoluble in water, slightly soluble in oils, and soluble in carbon disulphide (CS2).

The archaic name of sulphur is “brimstone“, meaning “burning stone”, which has long been linked to hell. For example, in show “the Supernatural” sulphur is one the key markers of the presence of demons and the stronger the demon the more the sulphur.

In Genesis 19:24, the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrha brimstone and fire.. 

In Psalm 11:6, Upon the wicked he shall rain snares, fire and brimstone, and an horrible tempest: this shall be the portion of their cup.

Where does it come from?

Sulphur is a naturally occurring non-metal substance that is found in all biological material. It is the fifth most common substance on earth. Sulphur originally came from volcanic emissions and old mined sulfur around volcanoes. Nowadays, it is a by-product of processing crude oil and gas.

What is it used for?

Isibabuli has a very low oral toxicity and an array of uses, including:

  • To treat dermatological conditions such as acne, dry and flaking skin, and itchy skin. It is also used to reduce the appearance of stubborn scars on the body. The antibacterial properties in the powder enable it to fight against the bacteria causing skin problems.
  • It is used to promotes the peeling of the skin
  • It is used to manage skin allergies such as scabies, dermatitis, and mange
  • It is used to relieve pain
  • It is used as an immune booster
  • It is used to treat mouth and throat sores using a technique called ukukhuma
  • It is used to make hair and nails grow faster and look healthier
  • It is used to give skin a youthful appearance
  • It is used to treat fungal infections such as athlete foot
  • It is used to repel snakes. Snakes do not like the smell of sulphur powder
  • It is used as an insecticide for lice, ticks, fleas, and ants
  • It is used to lower the soils pH value

How is it used?

Isibabuli can be prepared in the following ways:

  • Isibabuli is mixed with udupha, methylated spirit, impepho yamawele, and ikhanda lenkawu. The mixture is used for cleansing isithunzi (the soul).
  • Isibabuli is mixed with vaseline or other ointments or lotions and applied on the skin. For sensitive skin, the use of sulfur may cause irritation.
  • Isibabuli is used to make isiwasho (a cleanser) that is sprinkled around the home.
  • The powder is added to olive oil or coconut oil and the mixture is applied as hand lotion to give hands a youthful appearance and to make nails grow faster. The mixture is also applied as a hair moisturizer to make hair grow faster.

Learn about other mineral substances used in traditional medicine such as Umanyazini (Potassium permanganate), Coarse salt, Blue stone (Uzulu ocwathile), and Emarald by accessing Umanyazini (Potassium permanganate), Coarse salt, Blue stone (Uzulu ocwathile), and Emarald

Safety precaution

The use of traditional medicine in prescribed dosages will yield good results. Misuse and abuse may lead to complications. To learn about correct dosage, consult a traditional healer or a herbalist. You can also visit or email: to learn more about traditional medicine.

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