How to Recycle Mercury Scrap Metal

Written by mary freeman
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How to Recycle Mercury Scrap Metal
Mercury is a hazardous material that is contained in such household appliances as thermometers. (thermometer image by Szymon Apanowicz from

Mercury, also known as quicksilver, is a highly hazardous chemical element that is found in many household appliances, including light bulbs, thermometers, vacuum gauges and barometers. Because of its toxicity, mercury cannot be flushed, placed in the trash or handled in any way. Instead, mercury spills must be treated with utmost caution.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Stiff paper
  • Air-tight containers
  • Zinc and copper flakes
  • Ziploc bags
  • Eyedropper

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  1. 1

    Open your windows and turn off all heating appliances in your home. Use index cards or parchment paper to pick up large mercury beads, place it in a container, and seal it tightly. Pick up small beads with an eye dropper.

  2. 2

    Sprinkle zinc and copper flakes around the area where the mercury spilt, which will clump together particles of mercury, and contain the resulting beads. Place all items that have come into contact with any mercury in a Ziploc bag.

  3. 3

    Take the contained mercury to a hazardous waste collection event, which are conducted by municipalities every year.

Tips and warnings

  • Never use a broom, brush or vacuum to remove mercury.
  • Never let any mercury to go down a drain or toilet.
  • Never use household cleaners to clean up a mercury spill.
  • Wash all body parts that come into contact with mercury.

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