What is the ore of an amalgam

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Area of ‚Äč‚ÄčExpertise - metallurgy

Term for liquid or solid alloys of mercury with other metals.

While the metallic main group elements and all transition metals of the 4d and 5d series of the periodic table (exceptions: molybdenum and tungsten) readily form amalgams, only mercury alloys with manganese, copper and zinc are known for the metals of the 3d series. This is technically significant the formation of sodium amalgam as an intermediate product in chlor-alkali electrolysis (amalgam process). In the laboratory, alkali metal amalgams are occasionally used as reducing agents.

In dental technology, the tin-copper-precious metal amalgams (e.g. approx. 50% mercury, 25% silver, 12% tin, 13% copper) are still the most widely used means for dental fillings (seals) despite the discussion about health risks. The release of trace amounts of mercury causes an increase in the concentration of mercury in the saliva, blood and urine of amalgam carriers.

The enrichment processes practiced from the 16th to the end of the 19th century for the extraction of precious metals (especially gold and silver) from their ores (amalgamation or amalgamation) were based on the formation of amalgams. For example, crushed, silver-rich ores were treated with mercury, which easily dissolves elemental silver to form amalgam, and silver compounds are reduced to silver.

The easy evaporation of mercury from gold or silver amalgam was at the same time the basis of the - today no longer permitted - method of fire gold plating or silver plating, in which the objects to be refined were coated with appropriate amalgam pastes and then heated.

Learning units in which the term is dealt with

Alkali metals - group overview30 min.

chemistryInorganic chemistryChemistry of the elements

This learning unit gives an overview of the alkali metals including important physical and chemical properties.

sodium20 min.

chemistryInorganic chemistryChemistry of the elements

This learning unit gives an overview of the alkali metal sodium including occurrence, extraction, properties, reaction behavior and use of the element as well as selected compounds.