Water and mercury are incompatible liquids. Because mercury is denser than water, it may be separated using a separating funnel. Each time you pour one liquid into the other, they mix back together.
However, there are methods used to separate mercury from some liquid solutions. The most effective method is to use an adsorbent that binds with mercury atoms. Some examples of adsorbents used for this purpose include activated charcoal, clay, or powdered rock. The solution containing the mercury is placed in a container with the adsorbent and left alone for a few hours or overnight. The mercury-laden adsorbent can then be removed from the solution and disposed of as waste.
Another method uses a solvent to dissolve out the mercury. The solvent should not react with mercury except under special conditions. An example solvent used for this purpose is methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE). MTBE is a volatile organic compound (VOC) that must be recovered for proper disposal. Recycling or reusing VOCs has become increasingly important as our environment becomes more toxic due to pollution.
Yet another method isolates elemental mercury between two layers of glass.
The Best Answer A spearing funnel is filled with a combination of mercury, water, and benzene. It divides into three tiers. The lowest layer is formed by mercury, the middle layer by water, and the top layer is formed by benzene, the lightest liquid.
This separation can be done several ways. You could use a glass or plastic separatory funnel. This would work well if there are not that many ingredients to separate. Or, you could use paper towels or cloth towels to divide the mixture into its components. Be sure to wash all equipment that came in contact with the chemicals before reusing it.
Here's how: First, place a large bowl into which you plan to pour the mixed solution (or empty any other containers used for storing the ingredients) and another smaller bowl next to it. Second, cover the bottom of the larger bowl with several layers of newspaper or cardboard. Third, pour one half of the mixture into the larger bowl and stir quickly but thoroughly. This will cause any mercury that may be floating on top to sink to the bottom. Fourth, using the smaller bowl as a container, lift out the mercury and discard it. Fifth, repeat steps two through four with the remaining mixture. Sixth, when you're finished, your environment will no longer be toxic due to the absence of mercury vapor.
The reason this process works is because elemental mercury is less dense than air or water.
Because mercury is heavier than water, it forms the lowest layer and is separated from it. The process of separating mercury from water is called hydrometry.
Distillation is the separation of elements or compounds based on their physical properties. It can be done with heat or pressure. With heat, all the molecules in a substance move faster toward the hotter area of the container. This increases the speed of movement for some molecules and decreases it for others. Heavier molecules travel more slowly toward the hot spot and leave first. Lighter molecules stay longer and are heated too. This is called thermal distillation.
With pressure, all the molecules in a substance move faster toward the higher-pressure area of the container. Heavier molecules travel more slowly toward the high-pressure zone and leave first. This is called vacuum distillation.
Both methods can be used to separate out elements. In elemental distillation, only two substances are used: one that will absorb any available hydrogen (such as calcium hydride) and one that will not (such as sodium).