Why can’t a sponge soak up mercury even when submerged in it?

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Why can’t a sponge soak up mercury even when submerged in it?

In: Chemistry

Because the mercury will bind to itself with much greater force than it will bind to the sponge material (which it won’t really bind to at all). So when you remove the sponge from the mercury bath, the mercury clumps together and stays behind.

A sponge can’t absorb Mercury for basically two reasons:

One, sponges are made primarily of cellulose, which has a favorable interaction with water and liquids containing water. Mercury, on the other hand, is a metal, albeit a liquid metal (at room temp), and does not have a favorable interaction with cellulose.

Two, Mercury has a significantly higher surface tension relative to water, making it hard for the sponge to absorb it.

You’ll need a metallic sponge to absorb Mercury.