Is Mercury a Precious Metal?

Is mercury a precious metal? No, but if you invest in precious metals, there are things about mercury you should understand.

Mercury Is Poisonous

Some years ago, we had a call from a man who found a few hundred old thermometers in a factory. Each of them contained mercury. “Is mercury precious, can I send it to you to recycle?” he wanted to know. We advised him to contact his local state authorities to find out where he could take it so it could be processed and disposed of properly.

You see, mercury is poisonous, and you really don’t want to come into contact with it. Plus, it is plentiful and not worth much.

Mercury is an Element

In fact, it is the only metal that exists in liquid form at room temperature.

Mercury and Quicksilver Are the Same Thing

“Quicksilver” is a happy-sounding name for mercury. But don’t be fooled. Quicksilver, also known as mercury, is dangerous.

Mercury Is All Too Easy to Find

Not too long ago, it was used by dentists to make fillings. Astonishingly enough, it is still possible to find quantities of mercury stored in dental labs and even occasionally stored in old dental offices. If you find some, let us stress again, don’t play around with it. Contact local authorities and let them help you dispose of it correctly.

Mercury can also be found in thermometers and, sometimes, in old blood pressure meters and other devices. There’s an awful lot of it out there, so be careful.

Mercury Is Fun to Play With

If kids find it, say in old thermometers they can break open, they are apt to love playing with it. It’s bright, shiny. It can be broken down into small droplets that merge together, creating bigger droplets. The only problem is, again, mercury is poisonous. If you find any kids playing around with it, get it away from them fast and contact their physicians.

Mercury is Still Being Used in Some Medicines

A variety of medicines made in Asia still contain mercury – and they shouldn’t. But it comes as no surprise. As recently as 100 years ago, patients right here in America and Canada were given compounds of mercury to treat allergies and other illnesses.

Mercury Was Used by Gold Prospectors, Often with Disastrous Health Effects

Because mercury dissolves gold, clever gold miners and prospectors would sometimes mix mercury with sand and soil that contained gold. The mercury would combine with the gold, forming a liquid. Then the prospectors would heat that liquid and the gold would separate from the liquid. Clever, right! The only problem was that poisonous gas was released.

So if someone advises you to repeat that kind of process to extract gold from some kind of slurry, don’t listen. Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners instead at 800-426-2344. We can safely extract gold.

Also note that mercury dissolves silver, zinc and aluminum. It does not, however, dissolve platinum, iron and other metals. It is fascinating? Yes. But if you value your health, stay away from it.

To Learn More about Refining Gold, Silver and other Precious Metals

Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344. We are here to answer all your questions about precious metals.

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