Mercury Fulminate

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mercury fulminate

[′mər·kyə·rē ′fu̇l·mə‚nāt]
(organic chemistry)
Hg(CNO)2 A gray, crystalline powder; explodes at the melting point; soluble in alcohol, ammonium hydroxide, and hot water; used for explosive caps and detonators. Also known as mercuric cyanate.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mercury Fulminate


Hg(ONC)2, the mercury salt of fulminic acid; a detonator. It is a colorless or gray crystalline powder, insoluble in water. Density, 4.3 g/cm3. Mercury fulminate is dangerous to prepare: it is readily exploded by shock and friction and by the action of a flame or incandescent body. When carefully heated, mercury fulminate decomposes slowly; at 130°-150° C there is self-ignition with explosion. The moist compound is considerably less sensitive and dangerous.

Mercury fulminate is made by the action of mercuric nitrate and nitric acid on ethanol. It is used in priming detonators and igniters. Recently it has been replaced by more effective detonators, such as lead azide. Mercury fulminate was discovered by the British chemist E. Howard in 1799.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.