A colorless crystalline compound that was used in the 19th and early 20th centuries as an antiseptic, wood preservative, rat poison, insecticide, and fungicide (for paper and books). Mercuric chloride was also used as an intensifier in photography, for tanning leather, for separating gold from lead, and as a paint preservative. It can react with sulfur causing black stains on paper and specimens. Mercuric chloride is highly toxic and its use is currently restricted in the United States.
Synonyms and Related Terms
mercury chloride; mercury bichloride; corrosive sublimate; mercury perchloride; corrosive sublimate; mercury (II) chloride
Soluble in water, ethanol, ether, methanol, acetone, ethyl acetate, glycerol, and acetic acid. Slightly soluble in carbon disulfide, benzene, and pyridine. Incompatible with alkalis, metals and proteins.
|Molecular Weight||mol. wt. = 271.52|
|Refractive Index||1.725, 1.859, 1.965|
Hazards and Safety
Violent poison, can be fatal in minutes with ingestion of 0.5 grams. Toxic by ingestion, and inhalation. Corrosive to eyes, skin and lungs. Biohazard.
Egg white is used as an antidote.
C.Hawks, D.Bell, "Removal of Stains Caused by Mercuric Chloride Treatments from Herbarium Sheet Labels" in ICOM Preprints, Lyon, 1999. p. 723-727.
Sources Checked for Data in Record
- G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 502
- Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
- Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979
- Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
- The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 5926
- CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: ref. index=1.725, 1.859, 1.965