Mercury Thiocyanide = Gross/Awesome

Mercury Thiocyanide = Gross/Awesome

The expansive ash tendrils created by mercury thiocyanide decomposition are nauseatingly amazing! I’m guessing this reaction could have inspired Tetsuo’s animated affliction.

More info, and a perilous recipe on YouTube – Alien rock from Mars [Thanks, Erica!]

20 thoughts on “Mercury Thiocyanide = Gross/Awesome

  1. says:

    Very cool, but yeeeahhh… I releases mercury vapour:) Wanna do that one outside:) Looks easy enough to produce, too. Mercury chloride with potassium thiocyanate.

  2. says:

    Sorry, that is mercuric chloride, or mercury(II) chloride.

  3. Sleepydog says:

    I’d love to make this stuff, but wouldn’t want to keep mercury or concentrated nitric around the house.

    Recipe from youtube (more info):
    This is a piece of mercury thiocyanide. When decomposing, it makes large volume of ash, much larger than the piece of mercury thiocyanide itself.
    By popular demand, here is a recipe to prepare mercury thiocyanide:

    You need:
    1. concentrated nitric acid (HNO3)
    2. mercury (Hg) – from chemist or from thermometers
    (alternative – buy mercury nitrate)
    3. sodium or potassium thiocyanide (NaSCN or KSCN)

    First, dissolve mercury in nitric acid to get mercury nitrate solution.

    With concentrated nitric acid your mercury nitrate will probably crystallize – add
    sufficient clean water to dissolve the crystals (say, 10 times the volume of nitric acid used).
    (Alternatively: dissolve crystals of mercury nitrate in water)
    In separate container, dissolve some sodium/potassium thiocyanide in water.
    Add thiocyanide solution to mercury nitrate solution and mix it well.
    Greyish suspension of insoluble mercury thiocyanide will form – wash with water a couple
    of times (add water, mix, wait for mercury thiocyanide to separate at the bottom, decand/remove clear water, repeat.
    Put paper coffee filter into funnel and filter out the mercury thiocyanide, dry iy – must be bone dry to use it.

    Nitric acid is dangerous, handle with safety glasses, wash your hands immediately if spilled.
    Vapours of mercury are dangerous – best gandle on open air.
    Sodium or potassium thiocyanide is not that dangerous but don’t leave solution for anyone to drink!
    When dissolving the mercury in nitric acid, vapours of nitrogen oxides will form – these are poisonous if inhaled.
    While decomposing, mercury thiocyanide forms vapours – don’t know what these contain but don’t inhale!!!

  4. says:

    Yeah.. I wouldn’t want to be ANYWHERE NEAR this thing, both when it’s burning or when it’s in blob form.

  5. buzZubie says:

    Pretty cool effect, and chemistry is always fun, however it doesn’t seem like it is really in the spirit of Make.

  6. Collin Cunningham says:

    @buzZubie – really? I think it’s a pretty amazing thing to make, myself.

    reminds me of those ‘magic snake’ pellets from my youth that expanded when lit.

  7. samurai1200 says:

    reminds me of… the day after i eat the super nachos from that dirty old 24-hour mexican food joint down the street.

    but definitely in the spirit of Make.

  8. Blake says:

    Yay, Chemistry!

    If you want to know all the reasons why not to mess with this stuff:

  9. Anonymous says:

    I remember ‘indoor fireworks’ when I was young that looked exactly like this, on our dining room table, in the 70s.

  10. mrmeval says:

    That said “Let your kids do several dangerous things”

    This is one of those


    How can they BE mad scientists if you don’t let them do MAD SCIENCE?

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