If I Were To Drink A Glass Of Mercury, Would It Squirt Out Of My Anus?

Note: This is purely a hypothetical question, and should not be construed as a solicitation for anyone to drink, touch, breathe, or handle mercury in an attempt to answer this question. Please DO NOT consume mercury.

If you’ve ever poured mercury into your hand, you know that it’s nearly impossible to keep it from slipping through the small crevices between your fingers. Would the same principle apply to your anal sphincter muscle?

Suppose you poured yourself a nice tall glass of mercury and drank all of it. Is it true that gravity would quickly pull it through your digestive tract and, once it reached your anus, you would not be able to contain it, and it would come streaming out on to the floor. Is this correct? How long would it take for the mercury to traverse your digestive tract??


From a thread about swimming in mercury:

I suspect that some would be absorbed by your body (and you’d be in trouble). Most of it wouldn’t, but would be trapped at the declivities in your body – the “bowls” formed by the bottom of your stomach, the loops of your intestines, etc. And instead of staying in one concentrated mass it would probably break into little basll-shaped pellets, kept apart by irregularities in the local geometry and surface contamination from aciods, digestive juices, and whatever you ate.

Also, despite what you say, I suspect that, especially in the form of such “pellets”, your body’s many sphincters would work just fine in retarding their passage through your body, and that peristalsis would push it along. Eventually, anything not absorbed (little pellets = large surface area = better chance of getting absorbed) would pass out, as in the normal course of things, but not in one large lump, so you might not even notice it. It would probably be encapsulated in your solid waste.

Actually, if I’m not mistaken, a remedy for either diarrhea or constipation during the Civil War was “Blue Mass”, which was basically mercury mixed with some other stuff, so this has happened in the past (for the other problem they gave a plug of opium. I learned his from Ken Burns’ The Civil War)

In any case, you’d absorb way more mercury than you’d ever want to, and what you did swallow would apparently affect your digestive system, as Blue Mass did. Better get to a doc.

Anyway, it’s dangerous to ingest mercury - because, being so close to the sun, it’s very hot and can cause serious burns.

On a related note, what happens if you get drops of Jupiter in your hair?

I believe that, in the studies they’ve conducted, they’ve found that you’d act like summer and walk like rain. It may even, in some circumstances, remind you that it’s time to change. But YMMV.

I can deal with Jupiter. It’s Uranus I’m worried about.

Consider that it’s also pretty hard to keep water from slipping through your hands, but your anus has no great difficulty holding water in. A good sphincter muscle produces a much better seal than do fingers.

Are you sure about that? I thought elemental mercury was relatively safe; it’s the salts and inhaled vapors that are dangerous. It’s not very water soluble and I wouldn’t be surprised if ingesting it was relatively benign.

That explains a lot!! :smiley:

I’ve looked at sites about mercury, and they all tell you not to ingest the stuff. Even if the mercury in liquid form doesn’t interact well, yiour body can apparently absorb the vapors pretty easily (which is why there’s concern about mercury amalgam fillings, still). Some people attribute Lincoln’s erratic behavior (their claim – I don’t know what was erratic about it) prior to taking office to his use of the aforementioned Blue Mass (it was a laxative, and prescribed for other things, too). After he got into office, he stopped taking it, and reputedly got better.
I sure as heck wouldn’t drink it.

From what little I paid attention to in high school chemistry a metal plus acid results in a metallic salt plus water. I don’t think metallic mercury is safe to ingest.

Best. Thread title. Evar.

The hazcards we have at work which tell us all the dangers of the chemicals we use say mercury is safe to ingest but to seek medical advice anyway.

Maybe on a hot day it would squirt out your nose. I think some would lodge in a crevice in your intestines, most would be shat out in short order.

It most likely would make you Mad As A Shatter.

Not according to this link:

They did, indeed, use it as a constipation remedy back in the day. They used to lie a patient on a table that could be tipped in all directions, give the patient a big ol’ bolus of mercury, then swing him around to run it through his intestines until it came out the other end, sweeping everything before it.

I think you must have your tongue firmly planted in some cheek. This doesn’t tally with the use as given elsewhere.

Incidentally, the fact that mercury in Blue Mass certainly does have an effect on the body’s digestive tract argues pretty strongly that it is interacting with the body, and isn’t inert. I seriously doubt that the laxative effect is mechanical (as Smeg seems to be suggesting).

:: Lobs a pint glass at **Mangetout ** ::