Bismuth's melting point is 520 F, 271 C. This can easily be achieved on a stovetop or, as I did, with a camping stove. It will coat the interior of your crucible so don't use something you cook with often.
As with nearly anything these days, bismuth can be purchased on the Internet. I got a pound for about $15 US. This turned out to be a cube (more or less) of an inch and a half to two inches on each side.
Obtain the following additional items:
- goggles in case of splashing
- leather gloves
- crucible - stainless steel pot or bowl
- heat source - stovetop works fine, i used a camping stove
- big tweezers to pick out crystals
- pliers to handle crucible if it has no handle
The crucible I used (OK it's a mixing bowl from IKEA) is a little big for the pound of bismuth I got. Because melted bismuth oxidizes so fast, you want as small an area as possible exposed to the air. Also it would have been slightly easier to handle on my camp stove.
I got my bismuth from Rotometals
for $15 plus about $7.50 shipping, which was lowest for my location. Other online sources sell it as well.