Making Mercury (Part 1) | Summary and Q&A

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May 14, 2017
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Making Mercury (Part 1)

TL;DR

In this video, the presenter demonstrates a chemical method of extracting mercury from mercury sulfide waste, ensuring safety and efficiency.

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Key Insights

  • đŸ˜Ē Mercury sulfide occurs naturally as cinnabar, with two major forms: alpha (red) and beta (black).
  • đŸ˜Ē The red form, commonly used as a pigment, has been replaced due to toxicity concerns.
  • 🤘 Two main methods, thermal and chemical, can extract mercury metal from mercury sulfide.
  • đŸĻē The chemical method, though it generates mercury-contaminated waste, is safer due to the absence of mercury vapor.
  • ❓ The presenter demonstrates a modified chemical method using a polysulfide solution made from sodium hydroxide and sulfur.
  • đŸ’Ļ Proper disposal of waste is essential when working with mercury sulfide extraction.
  • ℹī¸ The quality of extracted mercury depends on the source material, with natural cinnabar containing impurities.
  • 🤘 Mercury metal can be used for chemical synthesis or kept as a souvenir, with proper storage precautions.

Transcript

Mercury is an interesting metal and element, but it rarely occurs naturally. The most commonly found form in nature is mercury sulfide, which is also known as cinnabar. Depending on how it crystallizes, mercury sulfide can exist in two major forms. So here we have the alpha form which is the most common one. It has a really strong red color so when... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: Why is cinnabar no longer used as a pigment?

Cinnabar, or red mercury sulfide, was widely used as a pigment in the past for paints and cosmetics. However, due to its toxicity, it has been largely replaced by synthetic pigments.

Q: What are the dangers of using the thermal method to extract mercury from mercury sulfide?

The thermal method involves heating mercury sulfide in the presence of oxygen, causing the mercury to vaporize. This mercury vapor can be highly dangerous, as it can be inhaled and cause mercury poisoning.

Q: Why is the chemical method of extracting mercury safer?

The chemical method involves using substances like iron or zinc to chemically reduce the mercury sulfide back to metallic mercury. This method does not produce mercury vapor, making it safer to work with.

Q: What are the potential downsides of the chemical method?

The chemical method produces a significant amount of mercury-contaminated waste that needs to be properly disposed of. Additionally, the polysulfide solution used can react with other metals present, leading to purification challenges.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Mercury sulfide, commonly known as cinnabar, is the most common form of naturally occurring mercury. It can exist in two major forms: alpha (red) and beta (black).

  • The heating process can convert beta mercury sulfide to the more common red form, which was historically used as a pigment but has been phased out due to toxicity concerns.

  • Two major methods of extracting mercury metal from mercury sulfide are thermal (with oxygen) and chemical (using substances like iron or zinc), with the chemical method being safer due to a lack of mercury vapor production.

  • The presenter demonstrates a modified version of the chemical method using a polysulfide solution made from sodium hydroxide and sulfur, which is more accessible to amateurs.

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