Mercury: reactions of elements

Reaction of mercury with air

Mercury metal reacts in air at about 350°C to form mercury(II) oxide.

2Hg(s) + O2(g) → 2HgO(s) [red]

Reaction of mercury with water

Mercury does not react with water under normal conditions.

Reaction of mercury with the halogens

Mercury metal reacts with fluorine, F2, chlorine, Cl2, bromine, Br2, or iodine, I2, to form the dihalides mercury(II) fluoride, HgF2, mercury(II) chloride, HgCl2, mercury(II) bromide, HgBr2, or mercury(II) iodide, HgI2, respectively.

Hg(l) + F2(g) → HgF2(s) [white]

Hg(l) + Cl2(g) → HgCl2(s) [white]

Hg(l) + Br2(l) → HgBr2(s) [white]

Hg(l) + I2(s) → HgI2(s) [red]

Reaction of mercury with acids

Mercury does not react with non-oxidizing acids but does react with concentrated nitric acid, HNO3, or concentrated sulphuric acid, H2SO4, to form mercury(II) compounds together with nitrogen or sulphur oxides.

Mercury dissolves slowly in dilute nitric acid to form mercury(I) nitrate, mercurous nitrate, Hg2(NO3)2.

Reaction of mercury with bases

Mercury does not react with alkalis under normal conditions.

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