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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