cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Swedishguy78
New Contributor

What's the difference between lead and quicksilver?

Hello everyone,

Swedish rookie here with a question: what is the difference between lead and quicksilver? I've tried wikipedia but couldn't find any clear answers. As far with my limited chemical knowledge I can't really find any good answers so that's why I am here. Are they different heavy metals or maybe just a synonym? Any input warmly welcomed. Greetings from Sweden.

Thanks,

Niklas Dahlström

0 Kudos
5 Replies
SophieRovner
New Contributor

Re: What's the difference between lead and quicksilver?

Hi Niklas: Quicksilver is mercury.

sweetbb
New Contributor

Re: What's the difference between lead and quicksilver?

Hello Niklas,

Quicksilver was/is a layman's name for mercury; nothing to do with lead except they are both metals.

0 Kudos
scooke
Contributor III

Re: What's the difference between lead and quicksilver?

Dear Niklas,

As the others have noted, "quicksilver" is just an old name for the metal mercury.  Both mercury and lead are "heavy metals", poisonous when accumulated in human tissues.  Mercury may be considered more dangerous, as it is the only metal that is liquid at normal room temperature and pressure, and it has a high vapor pressure.  That means that it can be adsorbed more readily by people in its vicinity than lead.

Knowing the difference, you should now be able to find much more detailed information on the history (fascinating!), properties and used of both metals with an Internet search.

Best regards,

Steven

0 Kudos
wjfreeman
New Contributor III

Re: What's the difference between lead and quicksilver?

Now that you know the difference from other comments and replies, I thought the etymology of the word "quicksilver" along with why the element is called "mercury" but its chemical symbol is "Hg," might be of interest.  Believe it or not all of these terms are related and are artifacts of historical names.  Wikipedia in the article on mercury provides this information:

"

Etymology

Hg is the modern chemical symbol for mercury. It comes from hydrargyrum, a Latinized form of the Greek word ὑδράργυρος (hydrargyros), which is a compound word meaning "water-silver" (from ὑδρ- hydr-, the root of ὕδωρ, "water," and ἄργυρος argyros "silver") – since it is liquid like water and shiny like silver. The element was named after the Roman god Mercury, known for his speed and mobility. It is associated with the planet Mercury; the astrological symbol for the planet is also one of the alchemical symbols for the metal; the Sanskrit word for alchemy is Rasavātam which means "the way of mercury".[15] Mercury is the only metal for which the alchemical planetary name became the common name.[16] "

Previous Community Member
Not applicable

Re: What's the difference between lead and quicksilver?

Indeed, "quicksilver" refers to mercury. In old French, it was sometimes called "vif argent". He played an important role in alchemy for the production of gold. Probably because gold is soluble in mercury.

This process is still used today by gold-washers and is a serious cause of pollution in rivers.

Contrary to popular belief, mercury metal Hg is not toxic and constitutes the major part of the metal alloy of the fillings of our teeth.

0 Kudos