Experiments You Can Do at Home - But Probably Shouldn't

Chapter 1
Experimental Cuisine » Gag with a Spoon

Gag with a Spoon

With the right mix of metals, you can make an alloy that turns to liquid at nearly any temperature. Mention liquid metal, and people immediately think of mercury. After all, it is the only metal that isn't solid at room temperature. Well, not quite-it's the only pure metal, but there are many alloys (mixtures of metals) that will melt well below that point. For example, the mercury-filled fever thermometers that children were told not to play with in the 1950s and '60s have been replaced by virtually identical ones containing the far less toxic Galinstan, a patented liquid alloy of gallium, indium and tin.

Those who were kids in that era may also remember playing with another low-meltingpoint alloy: trick spoons that melted when you tried to stir your coffee with them. These were made with a blend that, no surprise, was highly toxic. But, as it happens, it's possible to make alloys that liquefy in a hot drink using safer components.

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