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It's Elemental

The Element Bismuth

[Click for Isotope Data]


83 Bi Bismuth 208.98040

Atomic Number: 83

Atomic Weight: 208.98040

Melting Point: 544.55 K (271.40°C or 520.52°F)

Boiling Point: 1837 K (1564°C or 2847°F)

Density: 9.807 grams per cubic centimeter

Phase at Room Temperature: Solid

Element Classification: Metal

Period Number: 6

Group Number: 15

Group Name: Pnictogen

Special Notes: Radioactive

What's in a name? From the German words for white mass, Weisse Masse which was later changed to Wisuth and Bisemutum.

Say what? Bismuth is pronounced as BIZ-meth.

History and Uses:

Bismuth, which has been known since ancient times, was often confused with lead and tin. Bismuth was first shown to be a distinct element in 1753 by Claude Geoffroy the Younger. Bismuth does occur free in nature and in such minerals as bismuthinite (Bi2S3) and bismite (Bi2O3). The largest deposits of bismuth are found in Bolivia, although bismuth is usually obtained as a by-product of mining and refining lead, copper, tin, silver and gold.

Pure bismuth is a white, brittle metal with a slight pink color. Bismuth is usually mixed with other metals, such as lead, tin, iron or cadmium to form low-melting alloys. These alloys are used in such things as automatic fire sprinkler systems, fire detection systems and electrical fuses.

Bismuth oxide (Bi2O3), a bismuth compound, is used as a yellow pigment in paints and cosmetics. Bismuth oxychloride (BiOCl) is used to make a pigment known as bismuth white. Bismuth carbonate (Bi2(CO3)3) is used to treat diarrhea and gastric ulcers.

Once thought to be the heaviest stable isotope to exist in nature, experiments conducted in 2002 showed that bismuth-209 is unstable and decays into thallium-205 through alpha decay. Bismuth-209 has a half-life of roughly 19,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.

Estimated Crustal Abundance: 8.5×10-3 milligrams per kilogram

Estimated Oceanic Abundance: 2×10-5 milligrams per liter

Number of Stable Isotopes: 0 (View all isotope data)

Ionization Energy: 7.289 eV

Oxidation States: +5, +3

Electron Shell Configuration:


2s2   2p6

3s2   3p6   3d10

4s2   4p6   4d10   4f14

5s2   5p6   5d10

6s2   6p3

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For questions about this page, please contact Carol McKisson.