Introduction: How to Make Bismuth Crystals

Ever wanted to make your own bismuth crystals? Well you can by following these steps.

*NOTE: As much fun and pretty as these crystals may be please be aware that this is metal. Melting metals will give off fumes; try to avoid breathing in those fumes for health reasons. For complete details on bismuth and its' properties please read the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) found here: http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9927101

Materials Needed:

Metal Bismuth (99.999% pure bismuth is preferred. The cheapest place to acquire some is at Roto's Metals; they sell it by the pound: http://www.rotometals.com/Bismuth-s/4.htm)

2-3 Stainless Steel cups (stainless steel is preferred but aluminum cup will work too. They can be found at any store that sells kitchen accessories. For this example a muffin tin was cut up and used.)

Stove top or Hotplate (propane torch optional) (The hotplate can be found at almost any chemical store online.)

Oven mitts

Tongs

Hammer

Step 1: Melting the Bismuth

Using the hammer break the bismuth into desired sized chunks 

Place the stainless steel/aluminum cups into the stove top/hotplate and turn it to medium-high

Wait and watch for the bismuth to begin melting. If not turn up the stove top/hotplate.

Optional: if the stove top/hotplate does not get hot enough to melt the bismuth, a propane torch can be used to carefully melt the bismuth. WARNINGpropane torches are very hot and dangerous. please wear proper hand protection and eye protection before use.

Wearing the oven mitt(s) shake the container and watch for ripples in the liquid bismuth to check and see that it has all melted.

Step 2: Pouring the Bismuth

Set the other stainless steel/aluminum cup into the other stove top/hotplate and turn it on to the same setting as the first one.

Wearing the oven mitts (and tongs if possible), carefully pick up the container of liquid bismuth and quickly pour it into the other cup and set the hot cup aside. (try to pour the bismuth without pouring the gray layer on top; it contains impurities which could inhibit the crystals.)

Turn off the stove top/hotplate that the second cup with the freshly poured liquid bismuth is on. The rate of cooling down affects the size and the structure of the bismuth crystals so the slower it cools down the better.

Step 3: Bismuth Crystal

Wearing oven mitts, gently shake the container again to check and see if the bismuth is becoming solid. (This should appear to look like very little rippling when the container is shaken.)

Quickly pour the liquid bismuth into the first container that was used. There should be bismuth crystals in the second container.

The bismuth crystals can be snapped out of the container after the bismuth is completely solid, or they whole shape can be saved. Crystals should form in the other container as well.

If the crystals are not to your liking, the bismuth can be remelted and the process can be repeated until the desired crystals are made.

Comments

author
foxlily (author)2017-02-10

first time here!!!

author
Kinnishian (author)2016-03-05

I have a decent amount of slag-like bismuth from making a few pours today. I was wondering if there's a flux or something I should add before remelting the metal, to reduce this useless layer.

Any thoughts?

author
Kafukai (author)2015-01-10

This is cool.

Have you ever seen a solid Helium before?

author
Millerln (author)Kafukai2015-06-22

No one has ever seen solid helium before. It's practically impossible to get helium cold enough to solidify it.

author
Kafukai (author)Millerln2015-06-22

True, it is hard to make solid Helium. Did you ever heard the term 'super-solid'- it is a condition that every atom in a metrial can't even move, only happend in absolute zero.

This is how solid Helium looks like: http://www.spacedaily.com/reports/Shaking_down_frozen_helium_In_a_supersolid_state_it_has_liquid_like_characteristics_999.html

author
JoshA11 (author)2015-05-30

I bought my Bismuth from here on ebay and my crystals looked great! Definitely will do this again!

author
JoshA11 (author)JoshA112015-05-30

http://www.ebay.com/itm/100-grams-Bismuth-Metal-99-99-Pure-Element-Crystals-Ingot-Chunk-USA-/251976590733?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3aaaf9a58d

author
nathan.felsman (author)2015-02-10

Looks amazing!

What I was wondering now though is can you get any stainless steel shaped mold/container and do this with them? I thought it would be cool for a project to get like a stainless steel Pi symbol mold and make a crystal Pi.

author

Yes I have done the process with just a cup cake tin but it would be cool if other shapes would work.

author
scott.mckenzie.545402 (author)2015-01-09

We found that German battleship was makin' such a fuss
We had to sink the bismuth 'cause the world depends on us

author
mcgonagilln (author)2014-10-28

Cool! I had to do a project on Bismuth for school and this really helped. Thanks!

author
ninjakid11 (author)2014-05-26

Neat! can't wait to try it, if my mom lets me. I'll post if it has any dangers or value. 8^D

author
ninjakid11 (author)ninjakid112014-05-26

Turns out it is only worth a few dollars, but still interesting. Just don't try to sell it at a high price.

author
cabinnature (author)2013-07-23

thanks.we also process bismuth lump into needle shape and granule shape.If anyone interest,we are available anytime

richard castle
cabinnature@gmail.com
skype: castle8009

author
ninjakid11 (author)cabinnature2014-05-26

What services do these pose?

author
ninjakid11 (author)2014-05-26

Where did u get the idea? please post as soon as you can!

author
Nick Backhouse (author)2013-07-13

Sorry but how safe is it to melt bismuth? From what I've heard, the fumes given off by melting bismuth can be extremely dangerous. Is this true?, because this is something I really want to do but I'm anxious about the danger to my lungs.

author
sinkingjeans (author)2013-06-22

I used your method and this thin layer of yellow dust formed on the inside of the pan where it was in contact with the bismuth. It could be a contaminant but I don't think that it would coat the inside since its 99.9% pure or it could be a nonstick layer that separates with high heat. It happens every time I melt the bismuth. Do you have any idea what it is?

author

Well, even though it is not a contaminant, it is considered one. The thin yellow layer is bismuth but it is a chemical reaction that happens when hot liquid bismuth comes into contact with oxygen in the air. This can happen sometimes if the process takes too long. In that case just use something like a fork to gently scrape off the yellow layer and wipe it on a paper towel.

author
TekoMuto (author)2013-03-04

do i gotta go to Bismark to get Bismuth?

author
bmontgomery3 (author)TekoMuto2013-03-04

lol no...but that was clever

author
techhobbit (author)2013-03-03

Wow, neat. I've seen the really well developed crystals in rock shops, do you know what it takes to develop more elaborate crystals?

author
bmontgomery3 (author)techhobbit2013-03-03

yes, it depends on how slowly you cool the liquid bismuth. You may also try the dipping method. Take either a 6-12 inch piece of metal wire (preferably copper) or glass and dip it into the cooling bismuth. Then slowly pull it back out, then put it back in and repeat. Square crystals will form on the wire/glass and you can also scope the crystals onto it. I was going to show this too but I ran out of bismuth.

author
sovetstudentu (author)2013-02-28

Thanks!

author

No problem. Thanks for looking :)

author
ringai (author)2013-02-14

Those are pretty.

author
bmontgomery3 (author)ringai2013-02-28

Thank you :)

author
Dominic Bender (author)2013-02-14

At first I had no idea why anyone would want to ake Bismuth crystals, but your last picture sold me. The first thing that came to me was to use these crystals as a stage or setting for some alien planet, but I guess they are too small for that. Nevertheless, these crystals do have looks. Thanks for sharing!

author

They are pretty cool looking, I specifically like how they create a square pattern when the crystals form. Thanks for looking :)

author
ringai (author)Dominic Bender2013-02-14

I was thinking the same thing when I saw this one. They are pretty neat.

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