Is red mercury a myth or a reality?

New substance!

At the end of the twentieth century, many people began to say that supposedly one of the latest inventions of the then fallen USSR was found - red mercury. There were legends about its features. They said that this compound combines several substances with its qualities, and sometimes it predominates over mercury

At every corner, a lot of merchants asked for such a huge amount of mercury (which, by the way, did not deter buyers) - $ 300-400 thousand per 1 kg. Enough to buy it, they were attracted by the exceptional property of mercury (red) - the possibility of its use in military affairs. Also, this kind of this metal, if you believe the hypothesis, had other qualities, such as:

  1. High density (about 20 g / cm3).
  2. Low freezing point (approximately -150aboutFROM).
  3. Toxicity comparable to potassium cyanide.
  4. The ability to cure any disease (mercury red was also called the “philosopher’s stone of the 21st century”).
  5. High radioactivity.

Is it really a hoax?

But traders of "red mercury" sold to trusting people not a substance with such extraordinary properties, but the usual hydrargum (mercury and hydrargum - other mercury names) with dyes or mercury amalgam. Gradually, the talk about the fantastic connection stopped. But during the time it was discussed, many scammers managed to earn thousands of dollars from the sale of red mercury. Therefore, this substance is recognized as the most commercially successful of fictional materials. However, there are not mythical, but quite real compounds that contain mercury and have a red tint. They are represented by cinnabar and mercuric oxide and pyroantimonate. The numerical value of their properties is fundamentally different from the qualities possessed by fictional red mercury. Let's take a closer look at these substances and their use.

mercury redCinnabar (HgS formula)

It is also called mercury (II) sulfide. Scarlet cinnabar due to oxidation and the formation of a film on it. If you break this sulfide, then you can see that without the latter, it has a blood-red color. Before antibiotics were invented, cinnabar was the only cure for syphilis.Also, red paint and mercury were obtained from it, which is now synthesized by completely different methods.

Mercury oxide (formula HgO)

mercury propertyIts color can be not only red, but also yellow. The hue depends on the method of production. Red oxide is formed during the pyrolysis of mercury nitrate or by heating a pure hydrargrum to 350aboutC. If this compound has a yellow color, this means that it was obtained by the interaction of alkalis with mercury salts. However, during heating it changes its color to red. In the 90s, it was this oxide that stood out for the fantastic substance “red mercury”. Today with its help receive pure mercury.

Mercury pyroantimonate (formula Hg2Sb2O7)

This compound is often referred to as mercury oxysybate. It has a red-brown shade. This substance is used as an intermediate reagent and semiconductor material, and even some substitution and exchange reactions are not without it. This salt is poisonous, but it is far from potassium cyanide and, accordingly, red mercury.


Red mercury is not entirely fictional, just its properties were strongly embellished by a rumor machine. As you can see, there are several substanceswhich can be called red mercury, but none of them belongs to the military developments of the USSR, and moreover does not have features that are similar to what was said in the late 90s of the twentieth century.

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