Mercurous chloride

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An odorless, white crystalline powder. Mercurous chloride, commonly known as calomel, has been used for many years as an Insecticide, disinfectant, and Desiccant. It is used to make calomel paper, calomel electrodes, and as a Fungicide. Mercurous chloride is also used with Gold for mercury gilding on Porcelain. One Peruvian cabinet decorated with mopa-mopa, was found to contain calomel as a white pigment (Newman 2015).

Synonyms and Related Terms

calomel; mild mercury chloride; mercury monochloride; mercury protochloride; mercury subchloride; precipite' blanc; Calogreen

Chemical structure

Mercurous chloride.jpg


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

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Insoluble in water, ethanol, ether and cold dilute acids.
  • Blackens with exposure to light, ammonia, and alkalis.
Composition Hg2Cl2
CAS 10112-91-1
Melting Point 302 C
Density 7.15 g/ml
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 472.09
Boiling Point 384 C

Resources and Citations

  • R. Newman, E. Kaplan, M. Derrick, “Mopa mopa: Scientific analysis and history of an unusual South American resin used by the Inka and artisans in Pasto, Colombia,” Journal of the American Institute for Conservation 54 (2015): 123-148.
  • The Merck Index, Susan Budavari (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Whitehouse Station, NJ, 12th Edition, 1996 Comment: entry 5951
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993

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