If a boat is filled with mercury, will it float or sink?

Boating enthusiasts are often curious about whether a boat filled with mercury would float or sink. As a highly dense liquid, mercury is a fascinating element for boaters to consider.

To start, let’s examine the basic principle of buoyancy. According to Archimedes’ Principle, the buoyant force acting on an object is equal to the weight of the liquid displaced by the object. Therefore, as long as the weight of the boat (including its contents) is lower than the weight of the liquid it displaces, the boat will float.

However, when it comes to mercury, things get a bit more complicated. Mercury is much more dense than water, with a density of approximately 13.5 grams per cubic centimeter. In comparison, water has a density of just 1 gram per cubic centimeter.

To understand the impact of adding mercury to a boat, let’s consider a hypothetical scenario. Imagine that we have a small, lightweight boat with a volume of 100 cubic centimeters. If the boat was filled entirely with mercury, it would weigh around 1,350 grams (13.5 grams/cc x 100 cc = 1,350 grams).

Now, let’s consider the weight of the water that the boat would displace. As mentioned earlier, the boat’s weight must be less than the weight of the water it displaces in order for it to float. The volume of water displaced by the boat would be equal to the volume of the boat itself, which is 100 cubic centimeters. The weight of this water is equal to its volume multiplied by its density, which comes out to 100 grams (1 gram/cc x 100 cc = 100 grams).

So, in this hypothetical scenario, the weight of the boat filled with mercury is significantly greater than the weight of the water it would displace. This means that the boat would sink if filled with mercury.

Of course, this is a simplified example, and real-life boats and bodies of water are much more complex. The size and shape of the boat, the weight of the motor, and the salt content of the water are just a few of the factors that could impact whether a boat filled with mercury would float or sink.

If a boat is completely filled with mercury, it will most likely sink due to the high density of the liquid. To ensure that your boat stays afloat, it’s important to stick to conventional materials and proper boating practices.

Have something to add or correct? Please let us know by clicking here.
* See disclaimer in the footer of the site for use of this content.

Related Questions


Latest Posts

Don't Miss

Our Newsletter

Get the latest boating tips, fishing resources and featured products in your email from BoatingWorld.com!