Mercuric sulfide, black

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A dense black powder that occurs naturally as a mineral in California. Black mercuric sulfide is one of two crystalline forms of mercuric sulfide, the other being red. It is made synthetically by heating red mercuric oxide to 386C or by passing hydrogen sulfide gas through a solution of mercuric chloride in hydrochloric acid. Black mercuric sulfide, also called ethiops mineral, is used as a pigment in paints, rubber, and horn.

Synonyms and Related Terms

ethiops mineral; black sulfuret oxide of mercury; sulfuro de mercurio negro (Esp.); sulfure de mercure noir (Fr.); sulfureto de mercúrio, negro (Port.)


  • Highly toxic by ingestion, inhalation and skin absorption.
  • ThermoFisher: SDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

Insoluble in water, ethanol, and dilute mineral acids

Composition HgS
Melting Point 583 C
Density 7.55-7.70 g/ml