This White Powdery Substance Creepily Comes Alive When Heat Is Applied To It

Are you ready to see something cool? Ok good! The white powdery substance is known as Mercury (II) Thiocyanate, and when heat (flame) is applied it creates a reaction that’s pretty damn mind-boggling. The reaction is known as the “Pharaoh’s Snake” and it looks like something out of a science fiction movie, or the deepest pits of hell.

Here’s another example

According to Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D, here’s a breakdown of what’s happening:

Igniting mercury(II) thiocyanate causes it to decompose into an insoluble brown mass that is primarily carbon nitride, C3N4. Mercury(II) sulfide and carbon disulfide are also produced.

2Hg(SCN)2 → 2HgS + CS2 + C3N4

Flammable carbon disulfide combusts to carbon(IV) oxide and sulfur(IV) oxide:

CS2 + 3O2 → CO2 + 2SO2

The heated C3N4 partially breaks down to form nitrogen gas and dicyan:

2C3N4 → 3(CN)2 + N2

Mercury(II) sulfide reacts with oxygen to form mercury vapor and sulfur dioxide. If the reaction is performed inside a container, you will be able to observe a gray mercury film coating its interior surface.

HgS + O2 → Hg + SO2

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