Where does mercury come from?

Cinnabar

Mercury is usually found in rust-colored rocks called cinnabar.  The ore is crushed, then heated to release the mercury.

Mercury is perhaps the strangest of all metals.  It is the only metal that liquid at ordinary temperatures.

In nature, mercury is most often found in rust-colored rocks called cinnabar, although pure mercury can be mined.

To get the mercury from its ore, the cinnabar is crushed then heated to release and vaporize the mercury.  The mercury vapor then is caught and cooled.

Cooled, the vapors condense into a silvery liquid such as you see going up and down in a thermometer.

Because of its fluid quality and color, mercury is sometimes called “quicksilver.”  Anyone who has ever tried to pick up some spilled quicksilver will agree that the name is a good one.  When spilled, it  “breaks” into tiny balls that are hard to gather up.

Today, mercury’s unusual properties make it useful not only in thermometers, but in making thousands of products – from barometers and lights switches to pesticides. – Dick Rogers

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1 Comment

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