Fulminating Mercury

Dissolve 100 grains of mercury by heat, in an ounce and a half of

nitric acid. This solution being poured cold upon two measured ounces

of alcohol previously introduced into any convenient glass vessel, a

moderate heat is to be applied, till effervescence is excited. A white

fume then begins to appear on the surface of the liquor, and the

powder will be gradually precipitated when the action ceases. The

precipitate is to be immediately collected on a filter, well washed

with distilled water, and cautiously dried in a heat not exceeding

that of a water-bath. Washing the powder immediately is material,

because it is liable to the re-action of the nitric acid; and, while

any of the acid adheres to it, it is very subject to the action of

light. From 100 grains of mercury, about 130 of the powder are


This powder, when struck on an anvil with a hammer, explodes with a

sharp stunning noise, and with such force as to indent both hammer and

anvil. Three or four grains are sufficient for one experiment.

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