The complete guide to mercuric chloride

Where to buy mercuric chloride in India?

Mercuric chloride can be purchased from any chemical supplier, manufacturer, or third-party dealer in India. This has been the most popular trend and continues to dominate the chemical procurement process even today. However, with growing digitization at the global level, this trend is slowly changing and chemical purchase has increasingly been done on online platforms like Carbanio.com. The digital platforms are gaining popularity as they have eased the cumbersome chemical procurement process. Carbanio is the first and the largest online chemical bazaar in India connecting chemical sellers and buyers across the country. All that a seller has to do is become a verified supplier with Carbanio, and a buyer can look for the supplier/manufacturer near him and place an order. The chemical will reach the buyer in the estimated time.

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Mercuric chloride: Overview

Mercuric chloride is a chemical compound with the formula HgCl2. It is a triatomic molecule where a mercury atom is bonded with two chlorines. Mercuric chloride is a common laboratory reagent and the molecular compound which is also referred to as mercury (II) chloride and mercury dichloride. It is a highly toxic compound that is found to be corrosive to mucous membranes in humans.

AppearanceWhite crystalline solid
OdorOdorless
Molar mass271.52 g/mol
Density5.4 g/cm3
Melting point277°C
Boiling point304 °C
SolubilityDissolves in water

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Mercuric chloride synthesis

Mercuric chloride is generally synthesized by the action of chlorine on mercury or mercury(I) chloride. It is obtained by treating chlorine with mercury or mercury (I) chloride and adding hydrochloric acid (HCl) to a hot and concentrated solution of nitrate.

HgNO3 + 2 HCl        →    HgCl2 + H2O + NO2

Mercurous     Hydrochloric              Mercuric    Water         Nitrogen

Nitrate            Acid                             Water                             Dioxide

Uses of mercuric chloride

Mercuric chloride is an important chemical compound and finds varied applications, some of them are listed below.

  • It is a common reagent used in the analytical chemistry laboratory
  • Mercuric chloride is used in leather tanning
  • It is commonly used in antiseptics and disinfectants
  • In polyvinyl chloride (PVC) synthesis, mercuric chloride is used as a catalyst for the conversion of acetylene to vinyl chloride
  • In anatomy lab, mercuric chloride is used in the preservation of specimens
  • It is used in photography
  • Mercuric chloride is used in wood preservatives
  • It is often used as an ant repellent
  • Its solution is used as a dip for bulb and tube lights
  • It is used in dry battery cases

Mercuric chloride: Toxicity

Mercuric chloride is a toxic chemical and can be fatal if swallowed or absorbed by the skin. It causes severe irritation and burns when comes in contact with the eyes. It is also found to cause digestive tract and respiratory tract irritation with possible burns. It is found to damage the organs such as kidneys central nervous system, and reproductive system, where it is found to be harmful in the unborn child.

Potential health risk

Eye: Mercuric chloride can cause severe eye irritation with possible burns. It can further be harmful leading to discoloration on the front surface of the lens. Contact with mercury or other mercury compounds with the eye can cause ulceration of the conjunctiva and cornea.

Skin: The contact of mercuric chloride with the skin can cause severe skin irritation with possible burns. It is considered to be fatal if absorbed through the skin. Mercuric chloride is also found to cause allergic contact dermatitis.

Ingestion: Mercuric chloride can be fatal if swallowed, hence, it should be handled with utmost care. It causes irritation and burns on the gastrointestinal tract, along with symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In extreme cases, it may cause muscle tremors, impaired motor functions, and cardiac disturbances. Even acute poising of mercuric chloride may show up symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, foul taste, circulatory collapse, peripheral neurological disease, and kidney damage.

Inhalation: Inhaling mercuric chloride can have an effect on the central nervous system. The symptoms of such an effect can include emotional instability, anxiety, depression, and muscle incoordination. The chemical inhalation can also affect the gums, cause mouth inflammation, jaw necrosis, and also lead to the loosening of the teeth. In cases of acute exposure to mercuric chloride, vapors may cause irritation of the respiratory tract; when exposed to high concentrations of the vapors, it may cause severe irritation of the respiratory tract with severe burns.

Chronic effects: Prolonged or repeated exposure to mercuric chloride is harmful and can also be proved fatal. Chronic ingestion and inhalation lead to severe irritation with burns of the respiratory tract, digestive tract, and central nervous system; whereas, prolonged exposure to the skin causes dermatitis. Chronic ingestion is also found to have harmful effects on the reproductive system and further results in the accumulation of mercury in the body. Mercury poisoning can also lead to visual defects, kidney damage, and psychological changes.

First aid measures

In the event of exposure to mercuric chloride, it is important to offer the necessary first aid measure to the person exposed to the chemical to stop any further damage. Here are some important first aid measures you should carry out when the chemical comes in contact with the different body parts.

Eyes: When the chemical comes in contact with the eye, immediately flush eyes with plenty of cold water using clean hands. Repeat this for a minimum of 15 minutes and get the medical help immediately.

Skin: On exposure to skin, cut off any cloth covering the affected area and flush the skin with plenty of cold water for about 15 minutes. Seek medical help immediately.

Ingestion: Swallowing mercuric chloride can be fatal, hence, seek medical help immediately in the event of ingestion. Never try for medication or induce vomiting without the advice of the medical personnel. Also note that, if the person is unconscious due to ingestion never give anything from the mouth, take the person to a medical professional immediately.

Inhalation: In the event of inhalation of the mercuric chloride vapors, immediately expose the person to fresh air. If the breathing becomes irregular or difficult, the person may be given oxygen. It is advised to give the person medical help without wasting any time.

Mercuric chloride: Handling and storage

Mercuric chloride is toxic and corrosive, hence, it is important to handle it with utmost care while working with it. Wear necessary personal protective equipment to minimize or control the exposure of the chemical. Wear protective goggles to cut on any kind of exposure to the eye. Wear a mask to prevent the inhalation of the mercuric vapor, dust, or mist, and also preventing it from oral entry. Use gloves, covered footwear, and a laboratory apron to cover your skin from chemical exposure. Use the chemical only in the place of adequate ventilation. Wash hands thoroughly after working with the chemical. Remove contaminated clothing and wash before reuse.

Mercuric chloride should be stored in a tightly-closed container, and kept in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area away from sunlight. Never keep them in place of eating and drinking to avoid contamination.

Mercuric chloride: Global Market

Mercuric chloride has varied applications, one of the main remains its use in the production of disinfectants. The rise in end-users for disinfectants with the on-going coronavirus pandemic has significantly increased the production and supply, thereby, increasing the global market of the chemical as a whole. It is estimated that the market will significantly growing and will not see any slump until the year 2030. The mercuric chloride market continues to grow due to intense sanitization efficiency, along with its use in water treatment, wood preservatives, fungicides, and pharmaceuticals to name a few.

Key players in the global mercuric chloride market

  • Avi Chem Industries
  • Brisben Chemicals
  • Alpha Chemica
  • L.S. Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals
  • Alliance Global
  • Advent Chembio Private Limited
  • Powder Pack Chem
  • Byahut Scientico
  • Macsen Laboratories
  • A.B. Enterprises

Geographically, the mercuric chloride market is rapidly expanding in the areas of North America, Latin America, South Asia, East Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. The increase in pharmaceutical and chemical industries in Europe and the expansion of the chemical and plastic industry in the South and East Asia region have led to the increasing market in these areas. Furthermore, the growing demand for agriculture and water treatment in China and India has also increased the demand/supply chain in these regions. With its huge global market, mercuric chloride supply will not see any sump in the near future, the market looks quite promising for the next 10 years and will continue to grow further due to its disinfectant and pharmaceutical use.