Let's fill a toilet with 240 pounds of mercury and then flush it

A YouTube channel dedicated to unusual science experiments takes a bathroom break with a special toilet system and a whole lot of liquid mercury.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser

Mercury, both beautiful and potentially dangerous, is a heavy metal that's liquid at normal ambient temperatures. It can be poisonous and should be treated with care. So what do you do with several large flasks of the shimmery stuff? You flush it down a toilet, of course. YouTube channel Cody's Lab filmed that exact experiment for us all to watch with wonder.

The Cody's Lab video, posted on Tuesday, kicks off by discussing just how hard it is to flush a dense lead bullet down a toilet. You need a super-sucker of a loo to get the job done. The bullet test prompted Cody to try flushing mercury, an even denser metal than lead. Don't worry. Cody's special guinea-pig toilet is a closed system, so none of that nasty mercury is getting anywhere near a water supply.

Cody dumps the mercury directly into the toilet water, ramping up from a small amount to progressively larger amounts. The poor porcelain throne has trouble keeping up. It's a plumber's nightmare, but a heavy-duty plunger can encourage most of the mercury to move through the system.

Cody's final attempt involves pouring 240 pounds (109 kilograms) of mercury into the toilet in place of water. Will it flush? You'll have to watch for the answer. It's worth hanging in just for the slo-mo action shots of mercury streaming in rivulets around the white bowl.