The New Student's Reference Work/Amalgam
Amal'gam, an alloy of metals, one of which is mercury. Mercury has the power of dissolving almost all other metals and mixing with them, and so is much used in separating gold and silver from their ores. (See Metallurgy.) Amalgams are very numerous, and many of them are used largely in the arts. Tin amalgam is used for silvering mirrors; gold and silver amalgam in gilding and re-silvering; cadmium and copper amalgam in dentistry; and zinc and tin amalgam for the rubbers of electrical machines. Amalgams are variously made; some by merely rubbing together the two metals, others by the aid of an electric current. Some amalgams are solid, while others are liquid. The mercury can be distilled off from most amalgams by heating them in retorts. This is the way in which gold and silver are recovered from their amalgams.