Mercury(II) bromide

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Mercury(II) bromide or mercuric bromide is the chemical compound composed of mercury and bromine with the formula HgBr2. This white crystalline solid is a laboratory reagent. Like mercury(II) chloride, it is extremely toxic.


Mercury(II) bromide is used as a reagent in the Koenigs–Knorr reaction, which forms glycoside linkages on carbohydrates .

It is also used to test for the presence of arsenic, as recommended by the Pharmacopoeia. The arsenic in the sample is first converted to arsine gas by treatment with hydrogen. Arsine reacts with mercury(II) bromide:

AsH3 + HgBr2 → As(HgBr3) + HBr

The white mercury(II) bromide will turn yellow, brown, or black if arsenic is present in the sample.

Mercury(II) bromide reacts violently with elemental indium at high temperatures and, when exposed to potassium, can form shock-sensitive explosive mixtures.


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