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What is Bismuth

Bismuth (pronounced as BIZ-meth) is a brittle metal, existing in several allotrope forms, and denoted by the chemical symbol Bi. It belongs to the nitrogen family having 33 isotopes with mass numbers ranging from 185 to 217 of which only Bi-209 is natural and stable one with a half-life of 1.9×109 years [1].


Where Can the Element be Found

A rare metal, it occurs in ores like bismite and bismuthinite as well as associated with copper, lead, silver, wolfram, gold, and silver present in several bare mineral deposits of Peru, Mexico, Japan, Canada, United Sates, and Bolivia [1, 4].

Bismuth Pictures


Origin of its Name: its name is derived from the German word ‘Bisemutum’ which means white mass.

Who Discovered it: An unknown alchemist

Discovery Date: 1400 AD

When and Where was it Discovered

Around 1400 AD, the element was discovered by an alchemist whose name is not known. Although in the next century it was used as an alloying agent for cast types of printers and caskets, in early 1500’s Georgius Agricola, a German mineralogist, recognized it to be a metal having distinct properties. In the early 1700’s, a German professor called Caspar Neuman made the same analysis. Finally, in 1753, the French chemist Claude-François Geoffroy furnished further proof stating the existence of a new metal called bismuth [1].

Bismuth Element


Atomic number 83 [1]
CAS number 7440-69-9 [1]
Position in the periodic table [1] Group Period Block
15 6 p

Classification, Properties and Characteristics of Bismuth

General Properties

Relative atomic mass 208.980 [1]
Atomic mass/weight 208.980 atomic mass units [5]
Molar mass 829.407 g/mole [8]
Mass number 209

Physical Properties

Color/physical appearance Silver with a pinkish tinge [1]
Odor Strong [6]
Melting point/freezing point 271.406°C (520.531°F) [1]
Boiling point 1564°C (2847°F)  [1]
Density 9.79 g/cm3 [1]
Standard state at room temperature (solid/liquid/gas) Solid [1]
Thermal conductivity 7.92 Wm-1K-1

Chemical Properties

Flammability Unknown [6]
Oxidation states (numbers) 5, 3 [1]

Atomic Data of Bismuth (Element 83)

Valence electrons 5 [7]
Electron configuration (noble gas configuration) [Xe] 4f14 5d106s26p3[1]
Atomic structure [8]
– Number of Electrons 83
– Number of Neutrons 126
– Number of Protons 83
Radius of atom
– Atomic radius 2.07 Å [1]
– Covalent radius 1.50 Å [1]
Ion charge +5 [12]
Electronegativity 2.02
Ionization energy [1]


1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th
 702.944 1611.595 2466.17 4370.8 5403 8519.7

Bismuth Atomic Structure (Bohr Model)

What are the Common Uses of Bismuth

  • Shotgun shells made of the element are used in reloading hunting revolvers and rifles since it’s less expensive than lead and tungsten ammunitions with the same characteristics [10].
  • It is used in making magnetic levitation devices [18].
  • An insoluble salt of trivalent bismuth and salicylic acid, bismuth subsalicylate, is used as medicated chewable tablets in the treatment of upset stomach, heartburn, and nausea [8, 9].
  • Bismuth bronze, an alloy of copper, zinc, nickel, lead, and Bi is used in casting of mirrors, reflectors, and lamps [11].
  • Since Bi has a high electrical resistance, the nanoparticles of its oxide are used as cathode in solid fuel cells, and cancer imaging [14].
  • It is a good substitute for lead in the manufacturing of water pipes, sinkers, solders paste and fishing weights [15].
  • Bi-based glasses have been replaced with lead-containing ones due to their less toxicity [17].
  • Baths electroplated with the metal is important in the manufacturing of bearings for gasoline and diesel engines [16].
  • The crystals of Bi are applicable in making jewelry like rings and necklaces.

Bismuth Ingot

Is the Metal Toxic

Exposure to the fumes of Bi over a longer period of time can result in nausea, headache, diarrhea and vomiting. Both the metal and its salts can damage the kidneys if accidentally ingested. is bismuth safe to handle

Bismuth Balls

Interesting Facts

  • The image used in representing the metal is an alchemical symbol with ancient chemistry apparatus in the background [1].
  • Bismuth can be grown artificially into large crystals.

Bismuth Pipe

Bismuth Price

The cost of the pure/raw metal varies between $39 and $40 per 100 grams.

Bismuth Wire



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