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My friend and I are trying to synthesize mercury thiocyanate, however the only reagents we have access to are mercuric acetate and ammonium thiocyanate.

We figured that we could possibly force a substitution reaction with these reagents in alcohol over heat with stirring.

It worked, but after a few moments the solution turned yellow and after diluting with water (since mercury thiocyanate is insoluble in water and ammonium acetate is the opposite) the precipitate was yellow.

Was there a possible side reaction that occurred? If so what was it? And why is it yellow? I am accrediting that to the sulfur, but I could be wrong as I am a novice chemist.

I don’t have many peers to ask and would appreciate some input!

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  • $\begingroup$ Mercury salts are toxic. Do not attempt to synthesize if you don't know what is happening. $\endgroup$ Oct 10 '20 at 3:35
  • $\begingroup$ We used lab safety and are looking for answers thank you $\endgroup$ Oct 10 '20 at 12:43
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    $\begingroup$ 2 questions: 1) why use alcohol; 2) why use heat? Mercuric acetate, ammonium thiocyanate and ammonium acetate are all very soluble in water. Mix, let stand, filter, dry (gently), ignite, get Pharaoh's Serpent! (Remember to clean up and dispose PROPERLY.) $\endgroup$ Oct 10 '20 at 16:11

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