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Mercury(II) thiocyanate aka Paraoh’s snake


Possibly the creepiest thing we’ve seen all season, here’s mercury(II) thiocyanate’s decomposition initiated by heating. The terrarium adds a nice effect, like we’re watching some kind of sand monster out of Star Trek. Video queued to 1:20, when the action starts. One Facebook commenter noted, “I guess when you burn mercury thiocyanate, it opens up a portal to hell.” [Thanks, Laura!]


Mercury thiocyanide = gross/awesome

In the Maker Shed:



Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments

7 thoughts on “Mercury(II) thiocyanate aka Paraoh’s snake

  1. RocketGuy says:

    About halfway through I expected it to have written “NO KILL I” in the sand…

    But then it got a bit more Lovecraftian, rather than being an example of (wait for it) “hortaculture”.

  2. Alan says:

    Google “snake fireworks,” and you’ll get a whole bunch of videos like this. Most feature the standard black snake, and a few show how you can get a much bigger effect by stacking a bunch of the little tablets into a line.

  3. Heftman says:

    That reminds me of how my thoughts spread like cancer when I get a bad idea about how to take revenge on someone. Feels just like that. Uncanny

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Becky Stern is a Content Creator at Autodesk/Instructables, and part time faculty at New York’s School of Visual Arts Products of Design grad program. Making and sharing are her two biggest passions, and she's created hundreds of free online DIY tutorials and videos, mostly about technology and its intersection with crafts. Find her @bekathwia on YouTube/Twitter/Instagram.

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