Siteseen Logo

The Element Mercury


"The Atom"

What is Mercury as on the Periodic Table? Definition of the Mercury Element
A silvery-white poisonous metallic element, liquid at room temperature and used in thermometers, barometers, vapor lamps, and batteries and in the preparation of chemical pesticides. Mercury is sometimes called quicksilver. It is a rather poor conductor of heat if compared with other metals but it is a fair conductor of electricity.

It alloys easily with many metals, such as Gold, silver, and tin. These alloys are called amalgams. The largest natural source of mercury is cinnabar, which is a reddish mineral containing mercury and sulfur which has been used as a pigment, or dye, since ancient times. To produce liquid mercury, crushed cinnabar ore was roasted in furnaces.  The Atomic Number of this element is 80 and the Element Symbol is Hg.

The Properties of the Mercury Element
Symbol of Element : Hg
Atomic Number : 80
Atomic Mass: 200.59 amu
Melting Point: -38.87 C - 234.28 K
Boiling Point: 356.58 C - 629.73 K
Number of Protons/Electrons:  80
Number of Neutrons: 121
Crystal Structure: Rhombohedral 
Density @ 293 K: 0.53 g/cm3
Color : silvery-white

What is Mercury? Origin / Meaning of the name Mercury
Mercury was named after the Roman god "Mercurius", the messenger of Jupiter who was the god of commerce. The Latin word "Mercurius" is thought to have derived from the Latin 'merx' meaning merchandise. The symbol Hg is from the Greek words hydor and argyros, meaning "water-silver", because it is a liquid like water and has silvery metallic sheen.

What is Mercury? Properties of Mercury
A heavy metal of high luster and is an especially good conductor of heat and electricity.

What is Mercury? Periodic Table Group and Classification of the Mercury Element
Elements can be classified based on their physical states (States of Matter) e.g. gas, solid or liquid. This element is a liquid at room temperature. Mercury is classified as a "Transition Metal" which are located in Groups 3 - 12 of the Periodic Table. Elements classified as Transition Metals are generally described as ductile, malleable, and able to conduct electricity and heat.For additional facts and information refer to Mercury Properties. Nearly 75% of all the elements in the Periodic Table are classified as metals which are detailed in the List of Metals.

Facts about the History of the Discovery of Mercury Element
Known to the ancient Egyptians, Romans, Indians and Chinese. Mercury is one of the metals referred to as one of the 'Metals of Antiquity'. The ancient 'Metals of Antiquity' together with their approximate dates of discovery and use are Gold (6000BC), Copper (9000BC), Silver (4000BC), Lead (6400BC), Tin (3000BC), Iron (1500BC) and Mercury (1500BC).

History and Uses of Mercury by the Ancients
Ancient people placed great value on Mercury. But what did they use it for? The history and uses of Mercury by the ancients include the following:

  • The ancients used Mercury to purify gold and silver
  • The reddish mineral Cinnabar which contained mercury and sulfur was used as a dye
  • Mercury was also used in creams and ointments as cosmetics
  • It was believed that Mercury could heal and promote good health and it was therefore used as a medicine
  • It was of great religious and alchemical importance in ancient times

What is Mercury? Occurrence of the Mercury Element
As a general overview of the element we can at first describe Mercury as a liquid. It is a liquid at room temperature and one of the 20 least common elements. It is a poisonous, metallic element. Mercury is occasionally found free in nature but usually occurs as the red sulfide ore, called cinnabar, or vermillion. The largest producer of mercury is the USA followed by Spain and Italy.  The mercury mines of Spain have long been famous.

Found as a native metal (rare)
Found in cinnabar, corderoite & livingstonite
Approx 50% comes from Spain and Italy

What is Mercury? Uses of Mercury
Mercury is extensively used in the construction of scientific instruments, such as the thermometer and barometer, and as a liquid over which to collect gases which are soluble in water. The readiness with which it alloys with Silver and Gold makes it very useful in the extraction of these elements.

Abundances of the element in different environments
% in Universe 110-7%
% in Sun 210-6%
% in Meteorites 0.000025%
% in Earth's Crust 6.710-6%
% in Oceans 510-9%
% in Humans N/A

Medical Uses of Mercury - Health and Treatments
Interesting information is contained in the following list of Medical Uses of Mercury, Health and Treatments. Ammoniated mercury is a compound used as an antiseptic skin and ophthalmic ointment, however, it has been replaced by more effective and safer agents.

Impetigo, Psoriasis, Skin infections and skin disorders: Various symptoms according to the type skin disorder: Ammoniated mercury has been used for the treatment of skin complaints however, it has been replaced by more effective and safer medications

A useful reference providing information regarding the medical uses of Mercury, associated health issues and disorders and treatments using Mercury.

Associated Uses of Mercury
Fluorescent lamps
Medicine and Health Care
Chemical pesticides

Site Index
Transition Metals
List of Metals
Periodic Table

Privacy Statement

Cookie Policy

2017 Siteseen Ltd