Facts About Bismuth
Bismuth
Credit: Andrei Marincas | Shutterstock

Atomic Number: 83
Atomic Symbol: Bi
Atomic Weight: 208.98040(1)
Melting Point: 520.52 F (271.4 C)
Boiling Point: 1,564 F (1,564 C)

Word origin: The term bismuth comes from the German words weisse masse, meaning white mass.

Discovery: French chemist Claude Geoffroy the Younger showed it to be distinct from lead in 1753.

Properties of bismuth

Bismuth is a brittle, crystalline metal that occurs in its native state. It has a white coloring with a pinkish tinge. Of all the metals, bismuth is the most diamagnetic and has a very low thermal conductivity. It also has the greatest electrical resistance when placed in a magnetic field, a trait called the Hall effect. [See Periodic Table of the Elements]

Sources of bismuth

The largest sources of bismuth are the minerals bismuthinite or bismuth glance and bismite. It can also be obtained as a by-product in refining lead, copper, tin, silver, and gold ores.

Uses of bismuth

Bismuth is used in several commercial applications such as cosmetics, pigments and medicines. It is also combined with other metals to make low-melting alloys for safety devices in fire extinguishers and detection systems. The metal is used as replacement for lead in shot and bullets.

Bismuth subsalicylate, sold under the brand name Pepto-Bismol, is a well-known remedy for diarrhea.

A product called “Bismanol”, is a permanent magnet of high coercive force used by the U.S. Naval Surface Weapons Center.

Alloys of bismuth are also used in making sharp castings of objects subject to damage by high temperatures because the metal expands 3.32 percent on solidification.

(Source: Los Alamos National Laboratory)