Mercury sulphide

  • Formula: HgS
  • Hill system formula: Hg1S1
  • CAS registry number: [1344-48-5]
  • Formula weight: 232.656
  • Class: sulphide
  • Colour: scarlet red (high temperature form black)
  • Appearance: crystalline solid
  • Melting point: 344°C (red to black form)
  • Boiling point: 580°C
  • Density: 8170 kg m-3

The following are some synonyms of mercury sulphide:

  • mercury sulphide
  • mercury(II) sulphide
  • cinnabar
  • mercuric sulfide
  • mercuric sulphide
  • mercury sulfide
  • mercury(II) sulfide

The oxidation number of mercury in mercury sulphide is 2.


Hg(O2CMe)2 + H2S → HgS + 2MeCO2H

Red mercury(II) sulphide (cinnabar or vermilion, density 7500 kg m-3) can be made by the reaction of mercury(II) acetate, Hg(O2CMe)2, with hydrogen sulphide in the presence of exces ammonium thiocyanate, NH4NCS. Mercury(II) chloride can be used in place of the acetate but the colour of the product is siad to be less brilliant. The yield is nearly quantitative.

Solid state structure

  • Geometry of mercury: 2 coordinate: linear
  • Prototypical structure:
Crystal structure of mercury sulphide.
Crystal structure of mercury sulphide.

Element analysis

The table shows element percentages for HgS (mercury sulphide).

Element %
Hg 86.22
S 13.78

Isotope pattern for HgS

The chart below shows the calculated isotope pattern for the formula HgS with the most intense ion set to 100%.


The data on these compounds pages are assembled and adapted from the primary literature and several other sources including the following.

  • R.T. Sanderson in Chemical Periodicity, Reinhold, New York, USA, 1960.
  • N.N. Greenwood and A. Earnshaw in Chemistry of the Elements, 2nd edition, Butterworth, UK, 1997.
  • F.A. Cotton, G. Wilkinson, C.A. Murillo, and M. Bochmann, in Advanced Inorganic Chemistry, John Wiley & Sons, 1999.
  • A.F. Trotman-Dickenson, (ed.) in Comprehensive Inorganic Chemistry, Pergamon, Oxford, UK, 1973.
  • R.W.G. Wyckoff, in Crystal Structures, volume 1, Interscience, John Wiley & Sons, 1963.
  • A.R.West in Basic solid state chemistry Chemistry, John Wiley & Sons, 1999.
  • A.F. Wells in Structural inorganic chemistry, 4th edition, Oxford, UK, 1975.
  • J.D.H. Donnay, (ed.) in Crystal data determinative tables, ACA monograph number 5, American Crystallographic Association, USA, 1963.
  • D.R. Lide, (ed.) in Chemical Rubber Company handbook of chemistry and physics, CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, USA, 77th edition, 1996.
  • J.W. Mellor in A comprehensive treatise on inorganic and theoretical chemistry, volumes 1-16, Longmans, London, UK, 1922-1937.
  • J.E. Macintyre (ed.) in Dictionary of inorganic compounds, volumes 1-3, Chapman & Hall, London, UK, 1992.

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