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11A Science Fair: Chemistry The Pharaoh Snake Experiment Ghiya Nasser 11A What's it about? My project is about the pharaoh snake experiment which includes the chemicals: mercury(II) thiocyanate, and Hg(SCN)2. I chose this experiment because I found it extremely interesting, and I would like to know the chemical reaction that happens. Mercury(II) thiocyanate (Hg(SCN)2) is an inorganic chemical compound, the salt of Hg2+ and the thiocyanate anion. It is a stable solid at room temperature that has the appearance of white powder with chunks; it can also be grey in color, depending on purity. Mercury thiocyanate is best known for its former use in pyrotechnics, as it will produce a large, winding “snake” when set on fire. This is known as the Pharaoh’s Serpent. Mercury(II) thiocyanate is made by reacting solutions containing mercury(II) and thiocyanate ions. The low solubility product of mercury thiocyanate causes it to precipitate. It is also soluble in several solvents including benzene, hexanes, and methyl isobutyl ketone. The Reaction. When the compound is in the presence of a strong enough heat source, a rapid exothermic reaction is started which produces a large mass of coiling serpent-like solid. An inconspicuous flame which is often blue but can also occur in yellow/orange accompanies the combustion. The resulting solid can range from dark graphite grey to light tan in color with the inside generally much darker than the outside How to try it? We get like an aquarium, put sand inside it so it doesn't react to anything, and you put the mercury (II) thiocyanate in a zigzagged was so it looks like a snake. Then you get a lighter, a strong one and not the ones that are low. A combustion will form once the gas touches the Mercury (II) thiocyanate. However, this reaction does not create one pure product as the SCN- can react on either end with the organohalide. This means that such a reaction would yield two distinct products, one with the sulfur bound to the organic compound and one with the nitrogen bound to the organic compound. This is what happens The basic mechanism involves the addition of mercury thiocyanate to a solution with unknown concentration of chloride ions and iron as a reagent. The chloride ions cause the mercury thiocyanate salt to dissociate and the thiocyanate ion to complex with Fe(III), producing Fe(SCN)2+, which absorbs visible light at 450 nm. This absorption allows for the measurement of concentration of Fe(SCN)2+, produced as a result of the reaction between chloride ion and mercury thiocyanate. From this value the concentration of chloride can then be calculated. I did this experiment because I found it really interesting and wanted to know how powder changes to complete solid.