Friday, December 20, 2013

Boiling Mercury

Many people have asked to see me heat up mercury by either using  a torch,  or  dropping a red hot ball bearing in it.   The problem is the mercury fumes/vapors that would be unleashed if I did this.   I've been thinking about a safe and responsible way of doing this without releasing any gas.   Using a fume-hood would not solve the problem since fume-hoods just exhaust the fumes outdoors.  

One thing I am going  do some experiments with is a "visible retort".    A retort is like a still that is used to heat the mercury up,  evaporate it and then condense it back into a purer form.    These are used to separate gold from mercury since gold has a much higher boiling point than mercury and are also used to purify the mercury.

I am going to do some experiments using glass test tube vials and see if they will handle the heat required to evaporate the mercury.    If that test passes,   I will try it with a small amount of mercury.   It will be a very small-scale demonstration.  

Each demonstration I do is thought out quite well.   I have to make sure I do not expose myself to the mercury and have to be able to contain the mercury in case of a spill.   I normally do not show the precautions I take or the clean-up/decontamination I go through afterwards since that is boring.   Since I don't show the precautions,   people who have not seen my videos before have a natural reaction to assume I am being careless.   Everyone who knows how I do these often get a chuckle at the outrage some people express.    

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