Gallium - Amazing Metal Melts in Your Hand!

 

Gallium is one of the craziest metals on the periodic table. It is shiny and very hard, just like you might expect a metal to be but unlike the other metals, it actually melts at 85.58 degrees F (29.76 degrees C). This means that it will actually melt in your hand! Because of this low melting temperature there are countless experiments and activities that one can do with Gallium that aren't possible with any other element.

 

 

Where can you buy gallium?

We used to get our gallium from the science supply companies but now we order it directly from Amazon (find it here). There are several suppliers through Amazon and the prices are comparable or cheaper than the science warehouses.

 

Can gallium melt in your hand?

Gallium will definitely melt in your hand as long as your hands are warmer than 85.58 degF (29.76 degC) although it can take a while for the metal to become liquid. Because your hand is only touching one part of the gallium, that part will heat up first and will liquify as it reaches melting temperature. The rest of the metal remains below the melting temperature so it remains solid which means it can take quite a while for all of the gallium to liquify using your hand.

 

What is the fastest way to melt gallium?

We recommend placing the gallium in a plastic or glass container (don't use a metal container as the gallium may destroy it, more on this below). Heat water to a boil and add some of the water to an empty container. Set the container with the gallium into the how water bath and allow it to melt. Alternately, you may place hot water directly with the gallium and use a small syringe to pull the gallium out of the water. 

 

Is it safe to touch gallium?

Yes, gallium is safe to touch. However, we use gloves when we are going to be handling a lot of gallium because it will leave temporary stains on your hands. Also, one never really knows what they will learn about gallium (or any other element for that matter) in the future so there is no reason not to exercise some caution. It wasn't that long ago that Mercury has considered as a safe metal - today we know differently.

 

 

 

How to make a Gallium Pencil

Supplies:

Gallium

Pencil

Drill bit - 2 mm or 3/32 inch 

Small syringe

Hot water (water boiler)

Knife

 

Procedure

  1. Heat the gallium by placing the container in a warm oven (above 100 deg F) or place the container of gallium in a hot water bath (recommended method).

  2. Drill out the graphite of the pencil. You may want to drill a small hole into the side of the pencil so that the gallium will 'flow' into the drilled out void. 

  3. Fill a small syringe with liquid gallium by putting the end into the gallium and drawing up the plunger.

  4. Push the gallium from the syringe into hole in the pencil.

  5. Let sit for 12 hours (this time can be reduced by using the refrigerator).

  6. Use the knife to sharpen the pencil to a point.

 

 

 

 

How to make a Gallium Christmas Ornament

Supplies:

Gallium

Clear Glass Ornament

Small syringe

Hot water (water boiler)

 

Procedure

  1. Heat the gallium by placing the container in a warm oven (above 100 deg F) or place the container of gallium in a hot water bath (recommended method).

  2. Fill a small syringe with about 2ml of liquid gallium by putting the end into the gallium and drawing up the plunger.

  3. Remove the hanger loop from the clear glass ornament and fill the ornament with the gallium.

  4. Keeping your finger over the opening, shake the ornament to coat with gallium.

  5. Pour remaining gallium out of ornament and replace the hanger loop.

 

 

 

How to make a Gallium Disappearing Spoon

Supplies:

Gallium

Gallium Spoon Mold (you may make your own or order one by clicking here)

Small syringe

Hot water (water boiler)

 

Procedure

  1. Heat the gallium by placing the container in a warm oven (above 100 deg F) or place the container of gallium in a hot water bath (recommended method).

  2. Place the silicon portion of the gallium spoon mold into an over set to approximately 120 degrees and warm it up for about 5 minutes (do not overheat or it will melt).

  3. Remove silicon mold from oven and place into the plexiglass press. Tighten nuts slightly but do not crush the mold. 

  4. Fill a small syringe with liquid gallium by putting the end into the gallium and drawing up the plunger.

  5. Push the gallium from the syringe into the mold making sure it fills evenly throughout.

  6. Let sit for 12 hours (this time can be reduced by using the refrigerator).

To learn more about the Gallium Disappearing Spoon Trick, click HERE.

 

Good luck with all of your gallium experiments!
Keep on Learning!
~Craig Beals

 

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Craig Beals  |  Craig@BealsScience.com 

© 2019 Beals Science, LLC | United States

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