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Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Pharaoh's Snake

Browsing Fail Blog's WIN section today, I came across a fascinating display of chemistry called 
The Pharaoh's Snake
Also called the Pharaoh's Serpent, Mercury Thiocyanate, a white or gray powder, when ignited, coils outward into a solid of much higher volume.  Mercury Thiocyanate used to be used for pyrotechnics in Germany, and available to the public.  It has since been banned due to the high toxicity of both the resulting solid after burning as well as the gasses emanated during burning.  Unfortunately several children died in Germany before this was taken off the market.
The Pharaoh's Snake is still mind-boggling, and precautions are more than feasible to allow for a demonstration in a lab environment.

"Chemical demonstration during Scientific Picnic 2008 in Warsaw"
Not quite safe probably.

This demonstration is slower, with more detail, in a lab environment.

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