<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >

Mercury is very different from zinc and cadmium. Mercury is the only metal that is liquid at 25 °C. Many metals dissolve in mercury, forming solutions called amalgams (see the feature on Amalgams), which are alloys of mercury with one or more other metals. Mercury, shown in [link] , is a nonreactive element that is more difficult to oxidize than hydrogen. Thus, it does not displace hydrogen from acids; however, it will react with strong oxidizing acids, such as nitric acid:

Hg ( l ) + HCl ( a q ) no reaction
3Hg ( l ) + 8HNO 3 ( a q ) 3Hg ( NO 3 ) 2 ( a q ) + 4H 2 O ( l ) + 2NO ( g )

The clear NO initially formed quickly undergoes further oxidation to the reddish brown NO 2 .

Three test tubes are shown in a photo. The left tube contains a metallic liquid. The middle tube contains a metallic liquid under a layer of clear, colorless liquid. The third tube contains a whitish solid under a layer of yellowish liquid.
From left to right: Hg( l ), Hg + concentrated HCl, Hg + concentrated HNO 3 . (credit: Sahar Atwa)

Most mercury compounds decompose when heated. Most mercury compounds contain mercury with a 2+-oxidation state. When there is a large excess of mercury, it is possible to form compounds containing the Hg 2 2+ ion. All mercury compounds are toxic, and it is necessary to exercise great care in their synthesis.


An amalgam is an alloy of mercury with one or more other metals. This is similar to considering steel to be an alloy of iron with other metals. Most metals will form an amalgam with mercury, with the main exceptions being iron, platinum, tungsten, and tantalum.

Due to toxicity issues with mercury, there has been a significant decrease in the use of amalgams. Historically, amalgams were important in electrolytic cells and in the extraction of gold. Amalgams of the alkali metals still find use because they are strong reducing agents and easier to handle than the pure alkali metals.

Prospectors had a problem when they found finely divided gold. They learned that adding mercury to their pans collected the gold into the mercury to form an amalgam for easier collection. Unfortunately, losses of small amounts of mercury over the years left many streams in California polluted with mercury.

Dentists use amalgams containing silver and other metals to fill cavities. There are several reasons to use an amalgam including low cost, ease of manipulation, and longevity compared to alternate materials. Dental amalgams are approximately 50% mercury by weight, which, in recent years, has become a concern due to the toxicity of mercury.

After reviewing the best available data, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers amalgam-based fillings to be safe for adults and children over six years of age. Even with multiple fillings, the mercury levels in the patients remain far below the lowest levels associated with harm. Clinical studies have found no link between dental amalgams and health problems. Health issues may not be the same in cases of children under six or pregnant women. The FDA conclusions are in line with the opinions of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The only health consideration noted is that some people are allergic to the amalgam or one of its components.

Group 13

Group 13 contains the metalloid boron and the metals aluminum, gallium, indium, and thallium. The lightest element, boron, is semiconducting, and its binary compounds tend to be covalent and not ionic. The remaining elements of the group are metals, but their oxides and hydroxides change characters. The oxides and hydroxides of aluminum and gallium exhibit both acidic and basic behaviors. A substance, such as these two, that will react with both acids and bases is amphoteric. This characteristic illustrates the combination of nonmetallic and metallic behaviors of these two elements. Indium and thallium oxides and hydroxides exhibit only basic behavior, in accordance with the clearly metallic character of these two elements. The melting point of gallium is unusually low (about 30 °C) and will melt in your hand.

Questions & Answers

What is chemistry
khausar Reply
scientific study of structure of substances and of the way that they react with other substances
hi 2
whr u from
are u writing GCE
Cameroon and u
Please what nuclear fusion and nuclear fission
في التسمية الشائعة للكيتونات يتم للمجموعة التي phenone إضافة لفظ تحتوي على الفينل
Zahara Reply
what is organic chemistry
God Reply
what is thyroid land
lynda Reply
what is density
Fathmat Reply
A measure of the amount of matter contained by a given volume. The ratio of one quantity to that of another quantity.
mass divided by volume i.e. g/cm^3
what's molarity?
Okpaka Reply
the concentration of a substance in solution, expressed as the number moles of solute per litre of solution
Please help me solve this question. A is a solution of 0.995mol/dm cube hydrochloride acid. B was prepared by diluting 10cm cube of a saturated solution of sodium trioxocarbonate (iv) to 100cm cube at room temperature. Assuming that 21.50cm cube of A reacted with 25cm cube of B. Calculate: i. Concentration of solution B in mol/dm cube. ii.Solubility of sodium trioxocarbonate (iv) at room temperature. Equation of the reaction: Na2Co3 +2HCL------> 2NaCL +H2O +CO2.
Mercy Reply
I don't know whether it's ok or not, but the answers I got are: I. 0.428 mol/dm^3 II. 4.54g per 100 g of water
In the first one, I first found out the amount of HCl in mol using moles=concentration x volume. Then I checked the ratio of Na2CO3 to HCl, which is 0.5 to 1. Therefore the moles of Na2CO3 will be half of HCl. Using the amount in moles and the volume as 25 cm^3, I reached my answer!
In the second one, it says that 10 cm^3 has saturated Na2CO3 solution. Using the concentration we found in previous answer, I found out the moles present in 10cm^3. After that, using mass= moles x RFM, I got it's mass. As for the mass of water, we know 1 cm^3 gives 1g, so 10 cm^3 gives 10g.....
Using solubility= mass of solute/mass of solvent x 100, we reach the answer.
Note: we will not use the volume of solution to be 100 cm^3, because then the solution will be dilute.
plz do correct me if I'm wrong!! ☺️
is like the answer is 900
how can I make citric acid crystals from lemon juice
Traceyo Reply
Write the resonance hybrids of furan and thiophene
Hydrolysis of CH3CH2NO2 with 85% H2SO4 gives? 2/Acetaldehyde is oxidised with potassium dichromate and sulphuric acid gives 3/ When benzyl alcohol is oxidised with KMnO4, the product obtained ? 4/ Benzyl chloride is oxidised with KOH4, the 5/
Hydrolysis of CH3CH2NO2 with 85% H2SO4 gives?
Define reduction in term of loss or gain of oxygen or hydrogen give an example.
CuO + Mg → Cu + MgO removing oxygen is reduction. here Mg is reducing agent(loss of electrons)
reduction >> reduc(+)ion mean (+)ion reduced mean electron gained by (+)ion (+)ion means H(+).
How what works
Eric Reply
no clue how this works is there a VERY SIMPLE tutorial
Stu Reply
what are double bonds
Hafsat Reply
double bond are 2 atom that share four electron they are typical covalent bond that occur in alkene for example c2 h4
what is the differentiate property of alkynes
Am new ,hope am warnly welcome
Sarah Reply
yes ur re welcome
when you are sqaring exponetlias does the exponent become positive if it was negative?
Vittorio Reply
Practice Key Terms 8

Get the best Chemistry course in your pocket!

Source:  OpenStax, Chemistry. OpenStax CNX. May 20, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11760/1.9
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Chemistry' conversation and receive update notifications?