When you think of liquid metals, you probably think of a dangerous one like liquid mercury. But did you know there's a liquid metal that's safe to handle with your bare hands? It's called gallium and it's fascinating. You can safely put liquid gallium in your hands and observe its unique characteristics. You can even put solid gallium in the palm of your hand and watch as your body's temperature melts it. Gallium is not found in nature but it is easily obtained by smelting. As gallium cools, it begins to harden somewhat in the same manner as glass.
[Image Source: Jurii Wikimedia]
Gallium turns to liquid when it reaches 85˚F, so it melts easily. Because gallium melts at such a low temperature, you can play the "disappearing spoon" trick on a friend by putting a spoon made of gallium into a cup of hot tea. Of course, you'll need a plastic mold in the shape of a spoon for this trick. Assuming you've made a spoon out of gallium, the next step is to put the spoon into a cup of hot tea. After the spoon is submerged in the hot liquid, it begins to melt and the liquid metal sinks to the bottom of the cup. Your friend would be completely baffled as the spoon would literally disappear before his or her very eyes.
Check out the disappearing gallium spoon prank video:
Check out some other cool things you can do with gallium:
Another bizarre characteristic of gallium is its ability to weaken other materials. Gallium attacks most other metals by diffusing into their metal lattice. It also expands by 3.1% when it solidifies, so it can easily break glass or metal containers. Its ultra shiny, silvery composition is perfect for highly reflective mirrors. It's also currently used to make semiconductors and diodes.
[Image Source: Wikimedia]
Perhaps the coolest thing about gallium is that it's readily available on the internet and can be safely used in home experiments. Just remember not to store your gallium in a glass or metal container. Gallium will probably break them. Watch the video below to find out where to buy gallium online:
Article written by Leah Stephens. She is a writer, artist, and experimenter. She recently self-published her first book, Un-Crap Your Life. Fun fact: she’s been cutting her own hair since she was a teenager and calculates she’s saved over $3,500 in haircutting expenses so far. You can follow her on Twitter or Medium.
Written by Leah Stephens