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What are some tips for buying liquid mercury?

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Quick Answer

Individuals may purchase elemental mercury from a variety of suppliers including The Science Company and GalliumSource. Mercury is legal to purchase, ship and possess, but may not be shipped outside of the United States of America. Mercury is also available from chemical suppliers such as Sigma-Aldrich, but customers must be part of a research institution or company in order to create an account on the website.

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Smaller amounts of mercury can be obtained from other sources, such as thermometers and barometers, where it is used due to its uniform expansion and contraction with changes in temperature and pressure. Mercury is also found in older thermostats, which may contain several grams of the liquid metal. Certain types of lamps contain mercury, as do some blood pressure gauges. Thus, mercury can be extracted from many different household items at little to no cost.

Elemental mercury may only be mailed via ground shipping. Upon receipt of the mercury, it is important to handle it with proper protective equipment. Nitrile, PVC or natural rubber gloves are recommended for working with elemental mercury. Mercury is also toxic via inhalation, and it should only be used inside a ventilated cabinet or fume hood to avoid exposure. Do not attempt to handle mercury without proper safety training.

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