20 grams of melt-in-your hand gallium

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/11/19/20-grams-of-melt-in-your-hand.html

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That reminds me of the beloved puddle of mercury I kept in a dish and spent hours playing with as a child… Wait, what were we talking about?


Pro-tip: if you live in a warm climate and your gallium sample arrives in liquid form … put it in the fridge for an hour or two to make sure it turns solid. If afterward it is still liquid, you’ve got yourself a tube of mercury and you probably don’t want to be playing with it :slight_smile:


Don’t let it touch any aluminum!


and report the seller to the authorities for transporting unlabeled hazardous materials. maybe a few fines will change their attitude.

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Now I just need a teaspoon mold


I was thinking the same thing…

Did anyone here ever get some kinetic sand to mess around with? Videos of that were all the rage a while ago and I think I might have seen some in the bargain bin the other day.

Kinetic sand, and all the impostors, is a lot of fun. I like playing with it as much as my kids do. Watching it crumble is very soothing. But the kids make a huge mess every time and the wife made us throw it out.


I tried to get my gallium to do this, but i guess I didn’t scratch the anodizing hard enough or i didn’t let it set long enough, but it did not seem to effect it.


Ga is one of those cool materials that, like water and plutonium, expands when it freezes. Be sure to keep it in plastic and not glass.


Don’t try this with Purple Power Degreaser-Cleaner. Or do if you want to poke your fingers through tops of aluminum cans.

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Gallium is perfect for the old “disappearing tea spoon” prank.

A whole other series of pranks presents itself with this information…

When I was in first grade (1969…old), my teacher passed around a vial of a really cool liquid metal. We all got to pour it in our hands and play with it. Total enjoyment!

It, of course, was mercury.


My first job when I dropped out of graduate school was as an engineer’s aide. He boasted of making a bong using gallium – you mixed the weed in the liquid gallium, then heated it and (he claimed) you only got the purest smoke (and the best high) from it. I thought maybe, just maybe, you also inhaled gallium vapor; probably not the healthiest thing. I only made simple water bongs out of chemical glassware. Ah, memories…


Worth pointing out that for this reason, gallium is classified as a dangerous cargo and cannot be brought on to an airliner without permission. So if you’re thinking about giving it as a present, don’t pack it in your luggage.

Likewise, elemental mercury - such as in a thermometer or a barometer is also banned by airlines.

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Yeah, I’m slightly older than you. Different times, but every time I think back on that, it still kind of trips me out that the adults in my life weren’t aware of the hazards of mercury.

I used to use this a lot in the lab. When you mix it with Induim, the melting point is even lower, so you can score a hole in the surface oxide on silicon to make an electrical contact , and the liquid metal on top of it will prevent it from re-oxidizing.

Indium is super expensive, though.


Ga has a really low vapor pressure. One of the lowest of the liquid elements I think. Whether or not it’s suitable for bongplay, I’m not sure…