Watch what happens when gallium gets put on this aluminum racket

Originally published at:


I need more gallium in my life.


This ability to infiltrate metallic structures and give them all the mechanical strength of wet tissue paper are why Gallium and Mercury are very, very banned on aircraft.


I tried this with a soda can but either I didn’t scratch off the paint on it enough, or I didn’t let it set long enough. I should try it again.

That is alluminium.
For alluminum you need gallum.


Formation of an Aluminum-Mercury amalgam with Aluminum Oxide as a side product:


Well shucks, it’s too bad they chose an end frame from the video to spoil what happens. Still cool though.

Gallium seems like it could really mess someone’s day up if they had an aluminum frame car.


I wonder what we will have to take off for TSA now? With airplanes being made of aluminium and all.


ISTR reading a story about a guy who was trying to persuade the airline (in the pre-TSA days) that it would be okay for him to bring a barometer aboard because it wasn’t the kind with mercury in it, but barometers were on the list of banned objects, so no dice.


This is why it’s important to scan for gallium before entering strange space clouds in your starship.


Write that down in your copybook now.


In 2004 an BAe146 airliner at Belfast International was removed from service after baggage handlers discovered a small spill of mercury in the hold. The plane was thoroughly checked before it was allowed to re-enter service.

They got off lightly, standard procedure is that a large part of the airliner has to be replaced in case amalgam has formed. In 1996,Southern Air Transport had a mercury spill in the cargo bay on a Boeing 747-200 freighter which was considered a total loss, but after major repairs it went on to fly with Polar Air Cargo.

In a similar vein, a spill of hydroxyquinoline - a powerful oxidising agent that reacts with aluminium, on a MAS A330 required the scrapping of a 5 year old plane at the cost of $90 million.


The newer Ford trucks have all aluminum bodies… Now that would make for an interesting video. Dip a truck in a vat of Gallium! :slight_smile:


That’s kind of amazing. Look at what a filled d-orbital subshell will do for you!

They have to put it on a plane to get it here, so I’m almost tempted to order some and see what kind of packaging it shows up in. $115 for 10 g, that could certainly cause some difficult-to-trace mischief.

Cars are actually on the low end of the potential bad outcome scale.

That’s why it’s the law that not just anyone is allowed to bring their barometer on an aircraft; and even then it has to be declared and carefully packed. If you aren’t on official barometric business don’t even bother.

(13) A mercury barometer or thermometer carried as carry-on baggage, by a representative of a government weather bureau or similar official agency, provided that individual advises the operator of the presence of the barometer or thermometer in his baggage. The barometer or thermometer must be packaged in a strong packaging having a sealed inner liner or bag of strong, leak proof and puncture-resistant material impervious to mercury, which will prevent the escape of mercury from the package in any position.

Also, here’s a nice chunky padlock turning into something incrementally harder than overdone toast on exposure; a trick you wouldn’t want your landing gear to emulate.

1 Like

“Thanks Gallium. Thallium.”

Actually, that’s bad too, sorry Thallium.


OK next time i visit my nephews I am gonna find some scrap aluminum and try again and do that water trick.

I suspect that the economics are shaky; but the fact that aluminum can be fairly easily and readily converted into aluminum hydroxide and hydrogen; and the aluminum hydroxide back to aluminum with suitably copious applications of electricity(and some slightly unpleasant fluorine steps) has led to the proposal of using it as a more tractable proxy for shipping either bulk hydrogen or electricity. It certainly ships more easily than bulk hydrogen does.

1 Like

Good clean fun with fluorine.

1 Like