Experiment: Aluminum and Mercury strange chemical reaction. When mercury is added to aluminum, it forms an amalgam. Aluminum is normally protected by a thick oxide layer, but the formation of the amalgam disrupts it. It allows fresh aluminum to react with air to form white aluminum oxide. As the oxide grows, it forms as these cool white fibers. This amalgam is used as a chemical reagent to reduce compounds, such as the reduction of imines to amines. The aluminum is the ultimate electron donor, and the mercury serves to mediate the electron transfer. The reaction itself and the waste from it contain mercury, so special safety measures and methods are needed when performing this experiment.