Mercury in A-Level syllabus

Janeylou

Madbird
Morning fellow isolators! Just going through the Physics OCR (appendix 2) apparatus list for the PAGS as we are opening up a 6th form in the not too distant future. Under the Gases heading, some of the required kit is "mercury" and "mercury in a glass thermometer".

Being only really quite new to this A-level lark and prep (ie, not done it before at all) can anyone expand on this? Are we really still using the stuff and, if so, in what capacity! If someone can point me towards the actual practical this is needed for then I will be pathetically grateful.

I can already see my science budget doing down the tubes. Better Equipped don't do a mercury thermometer and I have just seen the price of the mercury cleaner-upper kits! Not even given a thought yet as to ordering mercury from a company … or the cost of shipping due to it being a hazardous load.

Should have been a brain surgeon or astronaut … much simpler life! TIA, chaps and chapesses!
 
I use neither, for charles law we use liquid paraffin in the capillary which works fine.

and you wont be able to buy a mercury thermometer anywhere as no longer available for purchase.
 

Janeylou

Madbird
I use neither, for charles law we use liquid paraffin in the capillary which works fine.

and you wont be able to buy a mercury thermometer anywhere as no longer available for purchase.
Thought as much. May mail OCR and ask what is going on regarding this. Gut feeling said it seemed a bit odd … Ta!
 

Janeylou

Madbird
Hmm, found it. OCR A-Level physics PAG 8.2
  • Variation in volume – Boyles Law apparatus
Equipment
  • Boyle’s Law apparatus
  • a mercury in glass thermometer
  • barometer
  • suitable eye protection
  • Variation in load on an enclosed quantity of gas
Equipment
  • plastic syringe or gas syringe with the outlet sealed or clamped
  • a number of masses to act as the load on the system
  • clamp stand, boss and clamp
  • micrometer or vernier calipers
  • mercury in glass thermometer
  • barometer
and for PAG 8.1
  • Variation in volume – Charles’ Law
Equipment
  • capillary tube containing mercury bead
  • stainless steel ruler
  • 1 litre beaker
  • kettle or Bunsen burner
  • ice
  • thermometer
  • barometer
Thing is, I am old and ugly enough to remember when the science teachers used to let us hold a blob of this stuff just so long as we "washed our hands before dinner". Didn't really have that much effect on us back in the 70's but that could be argued by people who know me!! Anyway, all jokes aside ... PAG 8.1's little bead of mercury in a sealed end capillary tube needs to be "prior prepared" before the students get it. That would fall to me, I expect.

I shall certainly be exploring the use of liquid paraffin (which I have) as suggested but, looking at the PAG 8.2, this still leaves me in a predicament regarding a mercury thermometer. They are about on ebay and other sites but would rather a reputable manufacturer, if indeed, they still exist.

May well go and bother CLEAPSS and see what their angle is on this. Grateful for any more comments and suggestions from anyone ...
J
 

karen b

COMMITTEE
DOn't worry about getting mercury in glass thermometers. They are definitely not recommended for general use. We do OCR and use alcohol (?) thermometers.

I did happen to make the mercury bead in a capillary tube because we had some mercury anyway and I found it worked slightly better than the conc acid
 
Don't all PAGs state that they allow for slight variation in equipment depending on what your school has? We use a mercury bead, mainly because someone had made them before I arrived (I refused to make it with mercury in a previous school), but I give them alcohol thermometers, even though we still have mercury ones kicking around. Teachers have been totally happy with the results achieved.
 
Morning fellow isolators! Just going through the Physics OCR (appendix 2) apparatus list for the PAGS as we are opening up a 6th form in the not too distant future. Under the Gases heading, some of the required kit is "mercury" and "mercury in a glass thermometer".

Being only really quite new to this A-level lark and prep (ie, not done it before at all) can anyone expand on this? Are we really still using the stuff and, if so, in what capacity! If someone can point me towards the actual practical this is needed for then I will be pathetically grateful.

I can already see my science budget doing down the tubes. Better Equipped don't do a mercury thermometer and I have just seen the price of the mercury cleaner-upper kits! Not even given a thought yet as to ordering mercury from a company … or the cost of shipping due to it being a hazardous load.

Should have been a brain surgeon or astronaut … much simpler life! TIA, chaps and chapesses!
There is no place for Mercury in level 3courses.
 
Clean up kit for mercury. Once you have all the big stuff collected (dustpan and brush used carefully) make a mix of equal parts of flowers of sulphur and calcium hydroxide. Mix to a paste with water and scrub onto the contaminated surface, making sure you get into all the nooks and crannies, like between floor tiles if you still have them. Leave for 24 hours and you should see it speckled with little black marks where the mercury particles were. Collect it together into a sealable bag and dispose with your next batch of chemical waste.
 
Clean up kit for mercury. Once you have all the big stuff collected (dustpan and brush used carefully) make a mix of equal parts of flowers of sulphur and calcium hydroxide. Mix to a paste with water and scrub onto the contaminated surface, making sure you get into all the nooks and crannies, like between floor tiles if you still have them. Leave for 24 hours and you should see it speckled with little black marks where the mercury particles were. Collect it together into a sealable bag and dispose with your next batch of chemical waste.
It's a bugger to get clean though as it gets everywhere. We have (hopefully) cleared all our mercury out and moved over to alcohol based thermometers. I had bottles of the stuff tucked in a cupboard when I started here.

I do remember back in my school days doing the trough of mercury and the inverted tube to show pressure.
 
It's a bugger to get clean though as it gets everywhere. We have (hopefully) cleared all our mercury out and moved over to alcohol based thermometers. I had bottles of the stuff tucked in a cupboard when I started here.

I do remember back in my school days doing the trough of mercury and the inverted tube to show pressure.
previous head always wanted to do that, could never find the right tube.:p
 
The Nuffield Physics Guide to Apparatus recommends keeping a 7lb bottle of mercury!

Apart from that, and a few other eyebrow raisers, the 1968 Guide is remarkably similar to the apparatus in a well stocked physics prep-room today.
 
It's a bugger to get clean though as it gets everywhere. We have (hopefully) cleared all our mercury out and moved over to alcohol based thermometers. I had bottles of the stuff tucked in a cupboard when I started here.

I do remember back in my school days doing the trough of mercury and the inverted tube to show pressure.
Yes, I forgot to add "perseverance" to the list. Apart from the 24hours, it will take a considerable time to scrape (carefully!) up the congealed paste from all the crevices.
 

karen b

COMMITTEE
Clean up kit for mercury. Once you have all the big stuff collected (dustpan and brush used carefully) make a mix of equal parts of flowers of sulphur and calcium hydroxide. Mix to a paste with water and scrub onto the contaminated surface, making sure you get into all the nooks and crannies, like between floor tiles if you still have them. Leave for 24 hours and you should see it speckled with little black marks where the mercury particles were. Collect it together into a sealable bag and dispose with your next batch of chemical waste.
I had always been told to use flowers of sulphur to clean up mercury, but no one told me the other steps! 30+ years I've been sprinkling the stuff on and then trying to sweep it up again, with no discernible difference to the mercury or the sulphur!
 
I had always been told to use flowers of sulphur to clean up mercury, but no one told me the other steps! 30+ years I've been sprinkling the stuff on and then trying to sweep it up again, with no discernible difference to the mercury or the sulphur!
they don't tell you as it means closing the lab.
 
No need for mercury thermometers if you don't have any. We use alcohol based thermometers (usually the one that are needed for distillation in chemistry) and concentrated sulfuric acid in the capillary tubes (this one does need a bit of practice).
 
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