Mercuric Chloride or Corrosive Sublimate (HgCl20)


It is obtained by dissolving mercurice oxide in HCl

HgO + 2HCl           →                HgCl2 + H2O


Commercially, it is obtained by heating Hgso4 with NaCl in presence of MnO2

HgSO4 + NaCl                    →                Na2SO4 + HgCl2

MnO2 is added to prevent the reduction of mercuric chloride to mercurous chloride.




  1. It is white needle – shaped crystalline solid soluble in water.


  1. Action of Heat:-

On heating, it decomposes forming mercury and chlorine.

HgCl2                   →                   Hg + Cl2


  1. Action of KI:-

When KI is added to Hgcl2 solution, give red ppt of mercuric iodided which on adding excess KI dissolve forming a complete potassium tetra iodo mercurate


HgCl2 + KI               →              HgI2 + 2KCl

HgI2 + KI                →                K2 (HgI4)

Excess                                 potassium tetra iodo mercurate.

Alkaline solution of K2 (HgI4) is called Nesseler’s reagent which is used for detection of Ammonia and its compounds.


  1. Action of NH3:-

Ammonia gives a white ppt of mercuric amino chloride with HgCl2.

HgCl2+2NH3               →             Hg(NH2)Cl + NH4Cl

Mercuric amino chloride

White ppt

  1. Action of SnCl2:-

SnCl2 reduce mercuric chloride to mercurous chloride which appears as white ppt and on further reduction it gives black ppt of mercury.

HgCl2 + SnCl2             →            Hg2Cl2 +SnCl4

Mercurous chloride (white ppt)

Hg2Cl2 +SnCl2           →             Hg + SnCl4

Excess                         Black ppt

  1. Action of SO2:-

SO2 reduce HgCl2 in solution to give white ppt of mercurous chloride.

2HgCl2 + So4 + H2O                 →          Hg2Cl2 + H2SO4 + 2HCl

White ppt

  1. Action of NaOH:-

With HgCl2 solution, NaOH gives a yellow ppt of mercurous oxide.

HgCl2 + 2NaOH                 →                HgO +2NaCl +H2O



  • it is used in making Nesseler’s reagent.
  • It is used as on anticept for sterization of surgical instruments.


  • It is used as preservative for timber.