How to Recycle Mercury Scrap Metal

Updated April 17, 2017

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.

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.

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.

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


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.

Things You'll Need

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

Mary Freeman is a freelance writer. She has held several editorial positions at the print publication, "The Otter Realm." She traveled throughout Europe, which ultimately resulted in an impromptu move to London, where she stayed for eight months. This life experience inspired her to pursue travel writing. Freeman received a degree in human communication from California State University.