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Author: Subject: mercury
russd
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mercury

Are there any companies in the U.S. that sell distilled mercury? (Names please)

What are some common quantities it is sold in and how much should I expect to pay per lb or kg?

I will be using it carefully and enviromentally responsibly for gold amalgamation.

densest
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Ummmmmmm..... mercury is quite hard to use "responsibly" without some pretty elaborate equipment. It has a fairly high vapor pressure at room temperature (2mm?) and while the metal itself is "relatively" non-toxic, organic compounds containing mercury can be extraordinarily toxic. If you're mining gold by amalgamation, please consider some better alternatives, like cyanide. Really. Mercury contamination hangs around forever; cyanide decomposes within days or weeks. There are lots of ways to separate small amounts of gold without using mercury. If you're planning to revive some of the old ways of making gold sculpture, don't.

The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland comes from mercury used to make felt for hats..... they didn't live very long. Back when chemists used mercury in the lab a lot, the life expectancy of a lab chemist was about 50-55 years.

Yes, it's available, but I'd rather you used something else.
paxx
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Look into Aqua Regia

[Edited on 5-2-2009 by paxx]
Lambda-Eyde
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russd
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Thank you all for your responses! I will take them all seriously, and, thank you again.

Russd
gsd
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http://www.bethlehemapparatus.com/

gsd
manimal
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 Quote: Originally posted by Lambda-Eyde Linkie

Interestingly, the reason that they won't ship mercury by airplane is because of the danger that a spillage might enter the aluminum frame and create an uncontrolled amalgamation that would compromise the structural integrity of the plane.

chemrox
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City Chemical offers 1# for $50+, once distilled btw. I didn't have the other two resources offered here and also appreciate them both. City Chemical may be difficult to deal with. I faxed them a PO an got one back stating minimum order is$250. I added some goodies and faxed back a PO for $300 worth of materials. Haven't heard or received. "When you let the dumbasses vote you end up with populism followed by autocracy and getting back is a bitch." Plato (sort of) 497 International Hazard Posts: 778 Registered: 6-10-2007 Member Is Offline Mood: HSbF6 That's funny, they say on their site the minimum is$100...
Lambda-Eyde
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 Quote: Originally posted by manimal Interestingly, the reason that they won't ship mercury by airplane is because of the danger that a spillage might enter the aluminum frame and create an uncontrolled amalgamation that would compromise the structural integrity of the plane.

Replace the word "plane" with the word "ship" and you have a line from Star Trek!

Sucks to live overseas when the only suppliers I know of are positioned in America. I have contributed with one link in this thread, I think it's about time someone links me to an European supplier that can ship Hg by ground transport! Please.
jokull
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Does anybody know how to distillate mercury?

I use distilled mercury for voltammetry and every month I get almost 30 grams of "dirty" mercury, so I think it is obscene to generate such quantities of waste.
grndpndr
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many of the creeks here in the black hills still have large amounts of mercury even in the streams themselves im told it collects almost like gold due to its density settling to the lowest point of the creek possible depending on water velocity, gravel bottom or rock will even seep into rock fissures.A friends boys found several pounds of dist mercury in an old shed not far from custer SD.No doubt from the old gold mining activities in the area.Being kids they messed with the mercury , neither died but there not really even employable.They didnt have alot of extra brain cells to spare to begin with now in thier early 20s Im still suprised they survive let alone walk and talk almost at the same time.

No shit story the mercury was tossed by the mom much to my dismay( another brain trust) from the description of the bottles and remaining content several lbs had to remain.I guess its fortunate they survived at all since no one made the drs aware of the kids antics with the mercury so as far as I know the immunity problems of one child were blamed on a diseased ferret the family owned rather than the heavy metal poisoning that almost killed him at Denver hosp for kids.Hard to believe I know but I have known the actors since the kids were in diapers.

Ive used approximately 1/4 lb that was given me for making the obvious primarys some 7-10 years ago w/o apparent effect OT long term memory loss.LOL,I think?
Panache
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 Quote: Originally posted by jokull I'd like to turn the course of this thread asking: Does anybody know how to distillate mercury? I use distilled mercury for voltammetry and every month I get almost 30 grams of "dirty" mercury, so I think it is obscene to generate such quantities of waste.

Vogels method for cleaning dirty mercury by shaking in a sep funnel with 10% hno3, then d-h2o works very well, i have done it many times, its a very odd experience shaking mercury in a sep funnel, so dense.

Vogelzang
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I was wondering if anyone ever thought about tracing mercury in the environment using the mercury isotopes back to the sources. Searching the internet for about 10 seconds turned up these articles. They discuss this technique. One surprising thing I found out is that nature is responsible for 30-40% of the mercury in the environment. Natural sources include mercury deposits, volcanoes, and the oceans. There's been a lot of hysteria about mercury accumulating in fish, but who's to say that fish haven't been doing this for the last 3-4 billion years already? Maybe fish accumulate mercury as a defense against predators.

Environ. Sci. Technol., 2008, 42 (22), 8177
http://www.fileden.com/files/2008/8/24/2063601/Climate/Envir...

Environ. Sci. Technol. 2008, 42, 8303–8309
http://www.fileden.com/files/2008/8/24/2063601/Climate/Envir...

argyrium
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Further afield from the initial question:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080629081932.ht...

7 tonnes per year...

You might try asking "old time" dentists - There has to be lots of it around just waiting to be "disposed of" in their offices.

Argyrium
grndpndr
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Of course Im unaware of conditions overseas but thus far I still run across advertisements in chem supply cataloges forsubstantial quantities of dist merc w/o excess paperwork and at relatively decent prices.As I mentioned ive used my remaining supply some time ago and due to its toxicity I believe Im done with its use.To many alternatives if need be
for my increasingly rare needs.
Flip
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Just drive out to any company that sells a lot of controllers/ electrical equipment. Due to EPA regulations they can't just throw away the mercury switches from broken/defective units and proper disposal would be expensive so typically they will have a stockpile of them that most of the employees regard to be worthless. I once had a guy hand me almost a kilo of mercury and thank me profusely for taking it off his hands.
Jdurg
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Initially, I was a part of the group that saw "mercury" in someone's posts and gave the standard "Oh my god, that stuff is so dangerous, don't use it ever!!!!!!!!" But if you read enough literature and know the beast that you're working with, it can be handled quite safely. The problems with mercury aren't realy the handling of it, but the disposal of it. You can't just throw it away like other wastes. The best thing you can do is react it in a manner that will make it as chemically inert as possible.

Some common things to do when handling mercury are:

1): Have a large amount of finely powdered elemental sulfur around. Sulfur will soak up the mercury and keep it from getting mobile. The mercury I have in my element collection is in glass vials which are half buried in powdered sulfur in the event that the glass fractures and the mercury spills.

2): Try to keep the vials closed unless you are withdrawing/replacing your mercury. The vapor pressure of mercury is present, but it's not super high. It's only a real danger if you have a very large amount of it and there is poor/no ventilation. Still, reducing the exposure to it is always a good idea.

3): Practice EXTREME caution with any mercury compounds, moreso than with the pure element. Elemental mercury is not all that nasty because it quickly passes through your body and is not retained for all that long a period of time. Mercury ions and organic mercury compounds are a completely different story. They are readily absorbed into the body and very, VERY slowly are removed. They stick around for quite a long time and do some nasty things.

4): Be fully aware of your surroundings when working with it. You don't want to misplace the mercury and wind up spilling it. When it is spilled, it then seeps into whatever it contacts, and due to the density, it will quickly diffuse into wooden floors, concrete, etc. where microorganisms can convert it into organic compounds which are quite nasty. It can also then slowly evaporate into the air over time giving a constant, very low level of mercury exposure. The exposure is a long term exposure and it can quickly build up in your body.

5): Always keep track of how much mercury you actually posses. This way you will be fully aware of what you have and if some is somehow missing, you can then start searching in earnest for it. This is common practice that should be followed for every chemical you work with.

6): In the case of a spill, never, EVER use a vacuum cleaner to clean it up. This is the absolutely WORST thing you could do with mercury as the use of a vacuum cleaner will vaporize it into the air where you, and anybody in the area, will then breathe in.

7): Have separate glassware, instruments, etc. that you use ONLY for mercury. Keep this separate from anything else you do in order to avoid contamination of other chemicals, instruments, etc. with mercury.

8): Keep the mercury waste separate from everything else and label it extensively. Any type of waste at all, or cleaning waste from cleaning your instruments should be stored safely and responsibly disposed of. By responsibly disposed of, I mean paying for a proper disposal of the waste. Yes, that adds cost to you which some people may find unneccessary, but it is a very responsible thing to do and will prevent any contamination of the environment.

I know this thread is fairly old, but I haven't browsed the forums in a while and the thread did pique my interest. While most of what I have said is/should be common knowledge, it never hurts to reinforce these good practices with regards to mercury. Have fun!

\"A real fart is beefy, has a density greater than or equal to the air surrounding it, consists of the unmistakable scent of broccoli, and usually requires wiping afterwards.\"
Jor
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First of all, I fully agree with you Jdurg, that mercury and its compounds can be handled quite safely. The disposal and treatment of all resulting waste is the big problem. I do have Hg-compounds (HgO (20g) and HgI2, and also 5mL of Hg), and I do experiment with them but I think I do this in a safe manner. I have done a synthesis of HgI2 a few months ago :

http://www.amateurchemie.nl/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=155

I have poured all residues of Hg-solutions in a single beaker and dissolved HgI2 wich was stuck on objects like stirring rods with KI-solution. I then acidified with conc. HCl and added excess FeS (I Don't have Na2S), and left standing for a day. The resulting precitipate of HgS is non-toxic (has NO R-phrases, and no warning symbols), does not dissolve in anything but hot aqua regia and possibly alkaline Na2S-solution (complex formation), but is still best disposed of as chemicals waste (does not take much space afterall!).
This is because if you put it in the trash, it might still be released when the trash is burned, by reacton with oxygen at high temperature giving HgO, wich the decomposes to Hg and oxygen, but i'm not sure of that.
It is safer to bury it (it's an inert insoluble completely insoluble powder) than putting it in the trash.

I am always extremely scared to accidentally push over a beaker containing Hg-solution, and use extreme cautions. For example I had a small accident yesterday involving PbI2 (nasty but not nearly as nasty as Hg-compounds).
I had a very wet powder of it and put it on the hotplate to dry it, but it was too hot and I wasn't paying attention so a small amount of water boiled ginving a 'pop' sending PbI2 airbourne, wich leaved spots of solid PbI2 all over the workbench. I think it was a total of 100-200mg PbI2. A mess to clean up with paper tissue, and a lot of solid hazardous waste produced (all those stained tissues). I wouldn't want to go through this with HgI2 for example.
All Hg-solutions are poured in a 1L liquid waste bottle, wich I use for all metal-waste. I can dispose of this through a professional lab. Next time I will seperate Hg-waste from the other metals, as this liter is going to cost me at least 20 euros to dispose of, while mercury-free waste is much cheaper to get rid of.
Finally handle metallic mercury with a plastic pippette , and work over a plastic container all the time, so that incase you spill some it will be safely contained.

I cannot fully agree with you on the toxcity issue: metallic Hg is metabolised by the body slowly to Hg(II). Inorganic mercury does not have a very high half life in the body, it's organic mercury wich stays there for long as it quickly reaches the brain and will stay there. Lead is worse than mercury AFAIK as cumulative action is concerned.
When you suspect mercury exposure, it can be treated very well with chelation therapy. So don't hesitate when you suspect exposure as waiting and you will risk permanent effects.

Sorry for the very long post . I just cannot stop talking.

So how do other members handle Hg-compounds and the metal itself?
Has anyone here ever worked with alkyl-Hg compounds like methylmercury-salts and such?

[Edited on 11-7-2009 by Jor]
entropy51
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I have no experience with the alkylmercury cmpds, but lots with the metal.

Now I'm very cautious about Hg, and I work so that any spill will be contained. I keep the metal under water, hoping that cuts down on surface vaporization.

But Hg must not be as toxic as everyone thinks. Years ago I worked in a lab where we did gasometric analysis with elaborate glassware filled with Hg. Someone was always raising a leveling bulb too rapidly and breaking a stopcock clean off the top of the gas burette. A stream of Hg would go flying. NONE of this was in a hood. We cleaned the Hg by swishing it around in a big steel basin of soapy water with ungloved hands. This was not an atypical situation in those days and no one got sick. Many others can tell similar stories of days gone by.

And of course kids were forever bringing Hg to school and almalgamating pennies with it and everything else imaginable. Nowadays that's a major HAZMAT. Didn't seem to hurt us.

So like I said, I'm very careful nowadays and I fear spills greatly. But I think the hazards are over-rated. I'm much more fearful of soluble Pb cmpds.
UnintentionalChaos
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ack! The hell if I'd consider working with alkylmercury compounds. I'd make some tetraethyl lead without much issue, but just look at the toxicity of dimethylmercury. If there is even a vague chance of any of that being around, I'd go running.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Wetterhahn

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Jor
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Uhmm... tetraalkyllead compounds are also extremely nasty, and are readily absorbed through the skin, just like dimethylmercury!

And realise that doses of lead far less than the LD50 can do serious harm to people (brain functioning), at least this is the case with lead-salts.

So you still would make these without too much issue?
I would not. I rather play with solid, non-volatile methylmercuric chloride than with tetra(m)ethyllead. Ofcourse i would never want to work with any of these unless with all possible precautions in a university laboratory.
entropy51
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When the Ethyl Corporation started up their tetraethyl lead plant in the 1930's, the workers were dropping like flies at first. Making it is not on my "To Do" list, but neither is dimethylmercury. As Jor said, these aren't amateur chemistry material.
Formatik
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 Quote: Originally posted by UnintentionalChaos ack! The hell if I'd consider working with alkylmercury compounds. I'd make some tetraethyl lead without much issue, but just look at the toxicity of dimethylmercury. If there is even a vague chance of any of that being around, I'd go running. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Wetterhahn

The case of Karen W. You can follow the medical chronical of the case here: http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/338/23/1672

It's interesting to see what kind of chelators were used and how long of a time lapsed since the exposure and initial chelation treatment. DMPS is the better chelator for Hg, but they decided to go with a less effective one (DMSA), making the treatment not as "aggressive" as it could have been.

If one must work with organic mercury compounds or mercury compounds a lot it'd be a good idea to get and blood and urine tests, or hair analysis which is good for long term exposure. If one works with heavy metals on a somewhat regular basis already it's good idea to eat a lot of cruciferous vegetables - those are the natural chelators.
UnintentionalChaos
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Something like tetraphenyl lead is actually more interesting to me, is a high-melting solid (no fumes), and is prepared by grignard reagent transmetallation. As such, I find it an interesting technical challenge.

[Edited on 7-12-09 by UnintentionalChaos]

Department of Redundancy Department - Now with paperwork!

'In organic synthesis, we call decomposition products "crap", however this is not a IUPAC approved nomenclature.' -Nicodem
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 Sciencemadness Discussion Board » Fundamentals » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition » mercury Select A Forum Fundamentals   » Chemistry in General   » Organic Chemistry   » Reagents and Apparatus Acquisition   » Beginnings   » Responsible Practices   » Miscellaneous   » The Wiki Special topics   » Technochemistry   » Energetic Materials   » Biochemistry   » Radiochemistry   » Computational Models and Techniques   » Prepublication Non-chemistry   » Forum Matters   » Legal and Societal Issues