Many chemical reactions are quite shocking, but this one is definitely something else. Take a look at the decomposition of Mercury(II) thiocyanate (Hg(SCN)2):

Mercury thiocyanate is a white powder that looks pretty inconspicuous when you look at it. However, when you introduce heat (burn it), it produces a blue flame and creates a solid snake-like mass which seems to stem straight from hell. The reaction is a trumped up version of the one seen in “black snake” fireworks, which generally use baking soda, linseed oil, and hydrocarbons.

Mercury thiocyanate was formerly used in pyrotechnics causing an effect known as the Pharaoh’s serpent or Pharaoh’s snake. However, use of the substance has been recently banned as the reaction was toxic.

Image credits.

ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE?
Subscribe To Our Newsletter
Join 50,000+ subscribers and be among the first to get the latest insights and updates from science. 
Stay Updated
By subscribing you agree to our Privacy Policy. Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.
Estimate my solar savings!