Parents and Teachers: Support Ducksters by following us on Ducksters Facebook or Ducksters Twitter.
Ducksters Educational SiteDucksters Educational Site
History Biography Geography Science Games

Science >> Chemistry for Kids >> Periodic Table
<---Gold       Thallium--->

Elements for Kids

Mercury

The element mercury

  • Symbol: Hg
  • Atomic Number: 80
  • Atomic Weight: 200.59
  • Classification: Transition metal
  • Phase at Room Temperature: Liquid
  • Density: 13.534 grams per cm cubed
  • Melting Point: -38.83°C, -37.89°F
  • Boiling Point: 356.7°C, 674.1°F
  • Discovered by: Known about since ancient times


Mercury is the third element in the twelfth column of the periodic table. It is classified as a transition metal. Mercury atoms have 80 electrons and 80 protons with 122 neutrons in the most abundant isotope.

Characteristics and Properties

Under standard conditions mercury is a shiny, heavy, silvery liquid. It is the only metal that is liquid at room temperature. It will evaporate into the air at room temperature.

Mercury is very poisonous and can be absorbed by humans through the air, skin, or by eating food with mercury. Too much mercury can kill a person.

When mercury comes into contact with other metals, it dissolves them and forms a new substance called an amalgam. Iron is one of the few exceptions and, as a result, is often used to store mercury.

Where is it found on Earth?

Mercury is a very rare element found in the Earth's crust. It is sometimes found in its free state, but is usually found in ores such as cinnabar, livingstonite, and corderoite. Most mercury today is produced from the mining of cinnabar, a bright red ore.

For many years Spain and Italy were the largest producers of mercury. Spain mined mercury in order to use it in their mining process for silver in South America. Today, the majority of mercury is mined in China and Kyrgyzstan.

How is mercury used today?

Mercury is used in a variety of applications, but is being phased out of some of them due to health issues. Due to its high density and thermal expansion characteristics, it is used in measuring instruments such as thermometers and barometers. A major application today is fluorescent lamps and mercury vapor lamps.

Other applications for mercury include dental fillings, telescopes, cosmetics, and vaccines.

How was it discovered?

Mercury has been known about since ancient times and was used by civilizations such as Ancient Egypt and Ancient China. The first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, believed that mercury was part of the Elixir of Life that would help him to live forever. Unfortunately, mercury is toxic and consuming mercury is likely what killed him.

For many years, alchemists thought that mercury was the "prima materia" and that all other metals could be made from mercury. They thought they could use mercury to make gold.

Where did mercury get its name?

Mercury gets is name from the planet Mercury which was named after the swift messenger of the Roman gods, Mercury. It was given this name because it flowed swiftly in its liquid form. The symbol Hg comes from the Latin word "hydragyrum" meaning "liquid silver."

Isotopes

Mercury has seven stable isotopes. The most abundant in nature is Mercury-202 which comprises around 30% of all mercury.

Interesting Facts about Mercury


More on the Elements and the Periodic Table

Elements
Periodic Table

Alkali Metals
Lithium
Sodium
Potassium

Alkaline Earth Metals
Beryllium
Magnesium
Calcium
Radium

Transition Metals
Scandium
Titanium
Vanadium
Chromium
Manganese
Iron
Cobalt
Nickel
Copper
Zinc
Silver
Platinum
Gold
Mercury
Post-transition Metals
Aluminum
Gallium
Tin
Lead

Metalloids
Boron
Silicon
Germanium
Arsenic

Nonmetals
Hydrogen
Carbon
Nitrogen
Oxygen
Phosphorus
Sulfur
Halogens
Fluorine
Chlorine
Iodine

Noble Gases
Helium
Neon
Argon

Lanthanides and Actinides
Uranium
Plutonium

More Chemistry Subjects

Matter
Atom
Molecules
Isotopes
Solids, Liquids, Gases
Melting and Boiling
Chemical Bonding
Chemical Reactions
Radioactivity and Radiation
Mixtures and Compounds
Naming Compounds
Mixtures
Separating Mixtures
Solutions
Acids and Bases
Crystals
Metals
Salts and Soaps
Water
Other
Glossary and Terms
Chemistry Lab Equipment
Organic Chemistry
Famous Chemists


Science >> Chemistry for Kids >> Periodic Table





About Ducksters Privacy Policy   

Follow us on Ducksters Facebook or Ducksters Twitter

This site is a product of TSI (Technological Solutions, Inc.), Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved. By using this site you agree to the Terms of Use.

MLA Style Citation