Cooking with Red Mercury

Folks still want to prove to me the Red Mercury exists and while I knew about the rumors linking Singer sewing machines and landmines to the hoax substance, John from Uganda wrote to me to let me know about another possible source.  John says:

Red Mercury exists 100%; I know someone with a stove of German made in 1914 by King Keizer it does wonders like changing water into red, changing blue pen to red, etc.

Well.  My curiosity was piqued.  What the hell is a King Keizer (Kaiser?) stove and why would anyone believe it contains Red Mercury?  And why doesn’t my kitchen stove have such wonderful magic powers?

First, this is bullshit and yet another means of liberating the gullible from their money.  In Kenya, two conmen were arrested trying to sell a German stove that they said was made of gold for 3 million Kenyan shillings (about US $30,000) (Standard Media).  But that’s somewhat believable: I mean a solid gold stove probably would be worth a few bucks on Antiques Roadshow, but no one, and I mean no one, makes a stove out of a soft metal like gold. No, better to claim that the Germans had imbued their cookware with mystical powers, such as those John mentions.  Of course, John’s stove only changed the color of things. According to the sales folks at this site, German Duss Stoves are also magnetic, disrupt mobile phone signals, and – best of all – “Turns warm then hot when shaken”.  Because, old German stoves are so easy to pick up and shake, right?

German Stove

Does not contain Red Mercury

Now then, not just any magnetic stove than warms up when shaken will do. No, you must look for the following, specific markings:

  • Two upright standing lions with a palm tree in between the lions.
  • The palm tree MUST have exactly five leaves on top.
  • A human portrait or wrist fists clenched on the other side

A very popular design, I’m sure.


So, here is another angle on the Red Mercury scam: the same properties ascribed to the hoax substance can be found in a very specific type of German stove made and sold prior to World War I.  Great.

But as ever: Red Mercury does not exist; anyone who tries to sell you some is a liar and con artist and should be reported to the proper authorities.

Michael P. Moore

Moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org

September 20, 2017


Despite my best efforts, you keep trying to sell me Red Mercury

At least once a month, someone writes to me and offers me Red Mercury or tells me where I can get it.  Which astounds me as I thought I was pretty clear about my position on this stuff: it’s a real as unicorns and Tinkerbell.  But okay, I’m here and I am interested in understanding the myth and its origins so I always ask for photos and where the sender got the stuff from.  I would like to share with you two recent efforts.

Jinx in South Africa wrote to me saying, “My friends came across this Red Liquid HgO and want to sell it. I have read that it’s used in gold processing.  But we have no idea and we’ll…. Want some money for it. Our luck maybe. And I must say.  What I’ve read sounds scary and dangerous. I just don’t want to get in trouble.”  To verify what he had, I asked Jinx for a photo and this is what he sent me:


South Africa Jinx

So, what is wrong with this photo:

  • First, Red Mercury does not exist;
  • Second, Jinx said he had *liquid* Red Mercury, but the label says it’s a gas;
  • Third, Germany has a “Ministry of Defence,” not a “Department of Defence;”
  • Fourth, a product made in Germany would have a German language label;
  • Last, the math doesn’t work: Hg 99.9% + Uranium 0.23% + Platinum 0.13% + Roctozia 0.08% + Matridox 0.35 [%] = 100.69% (and I cannot find any definition for “Roctozia” or “Matridox”).

Basically, this is a tube of junk.  The warning labels – “radioactive,” “flammable gas,” “danger” – just serve to heighten the suggestion this is interesting stuff that requires attention, but it’s worthless.  Sorry, Jinx.


Karabelo wrote to me “to convince you of the existance of r-mercury by sharing my pics. I have them now.  The small one is 350ml and then 500ml.”  Well, Karabelo, convince away.  But of course, he couldn’t because he “sold one to the chiness last week. I think they will be selling it to the Arabs in SA because thats where the market is. They took it to the lab and tested positive.”  Hmm. What did it test positive for?

Like Jinx’s stuff, the language doesn’t match the country of origin: I would expect a product made in Russia to have Russian (Cyrillic) writing on it.  I do appreciate the suggestion, “Do not open,” on the item on the left and the red skull and cross bones on the item on the right.  I don’t know why the item on the right has a bit of camouflage on it but I am certain these wouldn’t test positive at any lab for anything but BS.

All of the photos were taken from the inside of a right-hand drive car which is consistent with South African origins.

Oh, and I just got another email today from someone claiming to have Red Mercury from meteorites.  Can’t wait for more on that one.

Michael P. Moore

July 10, 2017

The Atlanta Case

On Thursday, March 30th, man walked into the Atlanta regional office of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to find out the value and purpose of the Red Mercury he had.  To be clear, Red Mercury does not exist, but if you thought you had some, the NRC would be a reasonable place to inquire about its relevance as the NRC is responsible for oversight of nuclear reactors and nuclear material in the United States.

245 Peachtree

245 Peachtree Center Avenue in Atlanta, home of the Atlanta regional office of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Photo from Google Streetview.

By bringing the material to the NRC, the man set in motion a series of government responses, starting with a shutdown of several blocks of the city and deployment of hazardous materials (HAZMAT) teams. Within a few hours, the city blocks were re-opened, the material in question confirmed to be harmless mercury sulfide and the matter was laid to rest with the man released, sans his mercury (Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

Two things about the story (beyond the involvement of Red Mercury) caught my eye. The first was the fact that the material believed to be Red Mercury was “from Africa,” and second, some conspiracy-minded people linked the Red Mercury incident to the collapse of a bridge on Interstate 81 in Atlanta less than 24 hours later (YouTube).

I did some digging. First I contacted the NRC and asked them about the incident. The NRC told me to contact local law enforcement which investigated the incident. So I wrote to Atlanta’s police and fire departments which referred me back to federal investigators. I tried to contact the Department of Homeland Security but received no reply. I also tried to contact the reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution who also did not reply. Basically, I had little to go on and began to feel a bit conspiracy minded myself. But then a break.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wins high marks for transparency. As the government agency with the capacity for monitoring mercury exposure (even if Red Mercury is a hoax, ordinary mercury is nasty stuff) and upom receiving the report of mercury in downtown Atlanta, the EPA dispatched a local agent to determine what is any risk to the public was posed by the mercury. The agent’s report included the above photo and described the incident. I sent an email to the agent who confirmed the details for me and told me that the initial HAZMAT responders confirmed the substance was mercury sulfide. The EPA agent then tested to ensure that the substance was contained and posed no danger to the public.

I asked the agent about the origin of the substance; did the man indicate where it came from in Africa? Turns out he got it from an elderly relative who told him it was Red Mercury but didn’t say how she had obtained it. So, mystery half solved. The man’s identity remains unknown to me.

Red Mercury does not exist and the collapse of the I-85 bridge is a coincidental event that appears to have been caused by a couple of (literal) crack addicts. The plot of the novel, Red Mercury, describes an incident around the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta which heightens interest in Red Mercury incidents in the city, but again, coincidental. I was amused the Atlanta Journal Constitution would not print a definitive denial of Red Mercury’s existence (which would be helpful and true), but that’s their prerogative.

In the conspiracy stories around the Atlanta incident, I saw reference to Red Mercury as the Soviet code name for the isotope, Lithium 6, which can be used for making thermonuclear weapons. Regular mercury can be used in the production of lithium (via the “mercury exchange” process), but there’s still no evidence for the existence of Red Mercury, just more reason to monitor ordinary mercury.

So, the Atlanta incident resulted in no arrests, no proof of Red Mercury and no injuries or exposure from mercury sulfide. Just a guy trying to make a quick buck who went home empty-handed.


Mercury Sulfide brought to NRC’s Atlanta office. Pro Tip: Ziploc is a poor containment system for suspected nuclear materials.

Michael P. Moore

May 8, 2017

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org



In which I get offered some “red mercury”

I think I have been pretty clear: Red Mercury is a hoax substance that does not exist.  In every post I have made about the stuff I have repeated these lines. But that hasn’t stopped at least six (!?) people from trying to sell me the stuff.  So… I took the bait.  Sure, send me the “evidence” you have of Red Mercury and I’ll check it out.

This video supposedly came from a worker at a Russian munitions plant who had managed to smuggle some Red Mercury from the plant where he worked. As he described it, “it is a pink colour, rounded shape, TT ball size, looks like metal mercury appearance , they can suck it into a syringe and when they press out from syringe it can bounce like TT ball, and its weight is one kilogram.” I have no idea what the stuff really is, but it isn’t Red Mercury (because it doesn’t exist). Unfortunately, our conversation did not continue.

More recently, I received this video from a person in Cameroon. He said the stuff came from Guinea (which I had not previously heard of as a possible source of Red Mercury). bottle-label

The label calls the stuff Mercuric Iodide and was brought to my attention by a fellow who wanted to be paid a finders-fee for linking me to the person with the Red Mercury, Mr. R. I had a couple of WhatsApp exchanges with Mr. R. who never quoted me a price for the Mercury, but did offer me a partnership in his 50 hectare farm if I was interested in that instead of the Mercury.  When it became clear I was not about to try and buy Mr. R.’s Mercury, our correspondence ended.

If someone else offers me Red Mercury, I will continue my inquiries; if only because I am curious.  But I know, as should all of you, that this stuff is pure hokum and a con.

Michael P. Moore

November 24, 2016

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org

Video of “Red Mercury”

A few days ago, someone reached out to me to say that he had seen Red Mercury and also had a cell phone video of the stuff.  According to the writer,

[I] have seen red mercury( quick silver), after putting into a cup fill with acid, the colour remain the same and can pass through white canvass without any colour left, and another one is looks like mercury, semi liquid, size of TT ball, having characteristic of TT ball ( it can bounce back and fro) .

He later wrote to say,

i tried to dye metal mercury in many different ways but it can not dye. if you have some information, please do tell me, the other item i said on my comment is not like this, it is a pink colour, rounded shape,TT ball size, looks like metal mercury appearance , they can suck it into a syringe and when they press out from syringe it can bounce like TT ball, and its weight is one kilogram

You can see the video for yourself here.  I would appreciate any thoughts. I’m certain this isn’t Red Mercury because Red Mercury does not exist (and the lemon rind is a new twist [!]). Red Mercury is a hoax and anyone who tries to sell you some is a conman.

Michael P. Moore

May 21, 2016

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org

A Victorian Take on “Red Mercury”

In the Victorian era, beauty treatments could be fatal.  In addition to using arsenic, belladonna, ammonia and lead-based paints (for that “whiter-than-white” look), women used vermillion, “a known poison,” was used as an early lipstick (Atlas Obscura).  In those days, vermillion was also know as our friend, Red Mercury, another example of how this substance has been lethal over the years.

Remember: Red Mercury does not exist and anything that claims to be Red Mercury is hazardous to your health.

Michael P. Moore

December 18, 2015

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org

Who is looking for Red Mercury

All of the recent attention on the Red Mercury hoax has been welcome.  But it did make me curious about who is searching for Red Mercury (because it DOES NOT EXIST) and in what context they are looking for it.  Using the search engine data collected by the Campaign’s site and doing a content analysis, I came up with the following information:

Red Mercury Searches

More than a quarter of the visitors to the Campaign’s website have found the site by using search terms like “Where to find Red Mercury”?  One in eight visitors are looking for Red Mercury and either landmines or other unexploded ordnance.  Two new areas that we can explore are the ideas of “cutting money” which means creating money through magical processes and the “Sandawana” which is a mythical animal in Subsaharan Africa.  Presumably, people are searching for Sandwana and Red Mercury for the same purpose: to get rich.  I was heartened to see almost one in ten searchers are looking at Red Mercury as a hoax or looking for stories about the con men running Red Mercury scams.

As for where the searchers are coming from, more than a quarter are from Southern Africa (Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe), but a surprising number are from Europe.  India, with 5% of the searches, was unexpected but Turkey, where recent arrests for Red Mercury scams took place, was not.

Red Mercury Search Origins

Unfortunately, I could not correlate the location of the searcher with the search terms used, but I did think it interesting that Zambia had more people searching for Red Mercury than any country except the United States.  South Africa and Zimbabwe had the third and fourth most searches, respectively.

But wherever you are: Red Mercury does not exist and anyone who tells you otherwise, whether in person or via Google is a conman.

Michael P. Moore

December 8, 2015

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org

Someone tried to fool CBS News with Red Mercury

From CJ Chivers’s blog:

An investigative journalist with CBS News, Jennifer Janisch, obtained the following images from a Syrian smuggler trying to peddle fake antiquities from Iraq and Syria.

CBS News Image 1 CBS News Image 2

I hope it goes without saying that this stuff isn’t Red Mercury.  It’s a very well-manufactured and decorated canister for fooling buyers.  Fortunately for whoever had this, it’s also not an explosive.

My favorite part of the picture is the line “NOT FOR SALE” at the bottom.  Which is true.  Because Red Mercury does not exist.

Michael P. Moore

November 23, 2015

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org

More Red Mercury coverage

The New York Times Magazine article is continuing to generate coverage of the Red Mercury Hoax.

On Slate’s Political Gabfest podcast  (at the 1:06:00 mark) Emily Bazelon, a writer from the Magazine, calls attention to CJ Chivers’s article and refers to Red Mercury as “The Holy Grail of Super Dangerous Weapons.” Which is a good line.

A story on News Corp’s Australian website mentions this website and says efforts like ours to combat the hoax and present the truth are “merely deemed to be the work of non believers” by members of Islamic State.  Yes, we’re non-believers in the myth because that’s what it is: a myth. And we’re right.  Red Mercury is a hoax. A fantasy.  And people who do believe are dying trying to prove otherwise.

Michael P. Moore

November 21, 2015

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org

Red Mercury in South Africa

A piece from highlights how Red Mercury [WHICH DOES NOT EXIST] was thought to be a key ingredient in South Africa’s nuclear weapons program.  The following quote, from South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, probably helped feed some of the hysteria:

“Red mercury may very well exist, in fact red mercury does exist, the contentious issue is whether it plays any role in the nuclear arms sphere. There is no doubt that red mercury exists, I can refer you to the original chemical articles on this particular form of mercury, and there have certainly been a number of unexplained deaths in people who’ve allegedly been linked to the red mercury industry.”

The are no “unexplained deaths” linked to Red Mercury.  People are killed or injured as they try to extract this hoax substance from very real and very deadly explosives like landmines.

Michael P. Moore

November 20, 2015

moe (at) landminesinafrica (dot) org