What is the Difference Between Merthiolate and Mercurochrome

The key difference between Merthiolate and Mercurochrome is that Merthiolate is a white or slightly yellow powder that can be used as an antiseptic and antifungal agent, whereas Mercurochrome is a dark red liquid that can be used as an antiseptic and as a biological dye.

Merthiolate is the trade name of thiomersal, which is an organomercury compound. Mercurochrome is an organomercuric disodium salt compound that is useful as a topical antiseptic for minor cuts and scrapes.

CONTENTS

1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Merthiolate  
3. What is Mercurochrome
4. Merthiolate vs Mercurochrome in Tabular Form
5. Summary – Merthiolate vs Mercurochrome 

What is Merthiolate?

Merthiolate is the trade name of thiomersal, which is an organomercury compound. It is a well-known antiseptic and antifungal agent. It is useful as a preservative for vaccines, in immunoglobulin preparations, as skin test antigens, antivenins, ophthalmic and nasal products, and tattoo inks.

Figure 01: The Chemical Structure of Merthiolate

The chemical formula of Merthiolate is C9H9HgNaO2S, and its molar mass is 404.81 g/mol. It appears as a white or slightly yellow powder having a density that is 2.5 times higher than the density of water. Upon melting, this powder tends to undergo decomposition. When considering the chemical structure of Merthiolate, it has mercury having a coordination number 2. This means there are two ligands that are attached to the mercury atom. The two ligands are thiolate group and ethyl group. There is a carboxylate group that is responsible for the solubility of this compound in water. Moreover, similar to many other mercury-containing compounds, Merthiolate also has a linear geometry. We can prepare this compound from organomercury chlorides.

Due to the presence of mercury, Merthiolate shows toxicity when inhaled, upon ingestion, and upon contact with skin. Moreover, this substance is highly toxic to aquatic environments and can cause long-lasting effects in aquatic environments.

What is Mercurochrome?

Mercurochrome is an organomercuric disodium salt compound that is useful as a topical antiseptic for minor cuts and scrapes. Moreover, it is useful as a biological dye. This substance is readily available in many countries, but some countries do not sell it anymore because of its mercury content.

Figure 02: The Chemical Structure of Mercurochrome

Mercurochrome is useful as a topical antiseptic to treat minor wounds, burns, and scratches. Moreover, it is useful in the antisepsis of the umbilical cord. Upon application on wounds, it can stain the skin in a distinctive carmine red. This color can persist through repeated washings. Furthermore, this substance is useful for infections of the finger or toenails because of its performance and lethal bacteria.

We can synthesize mercurochrome by combining dibromofluorescein with mercuric acetate and sodium hydroxide. Alternatively, we can prepare it via the action of the mercuric acetate in the presence of sodium dibromofluorescein.

What is the Difference Between Merthiolate and Mercurochrome?

Merthiolate is the trade name of thiomersal which is an organomercury compound. Mercurochrome is an organomercuric disodium salt compound that is useful as a topical antiseptic for minor cuts and scrapes. The key difference between Merthiolate and Mercurochrome is that Merthiolate is a white or slightly yellow powder that can be used as an antiseptic and antifungal agent, whereas mercurochrome is a dark red liquid that can be used as an antiseptic and as a biological dye.

The below infographic presents the differences between Merthiolate and Mercurochrome in tabular form for side by side comparison.

Summary – Merthiolate vs Mercurochrome

Merthiolate and mercurochrome are important antiseptics. The key difference between Merthiolate and Mercurochrome is that Merthiolate is a white or slightly yellow powder that can be used as an antiseptic and antifungal agent, whereas mercurochrome is a dark red liquid that can be used as an antiseptic and as a biological dye.