Atomic number: 83

Symbol: Bi

Category: post-transition metal (poor conductor of electricity)

Density at 25°C: solid: density: 11.34 g·cm−3

Known, in some sense, since ancient times it was confused with similar elements like lead and tin. The name bismuth dates from around the 1660s, It is one of the first 10 metals to have been discovered. Bismuth appears in the 1660s, from obsolete German Bismuth, Wismut, Wissmuth (early 16th century); perhaps related to Old High German hwiz ("white").  

Being much less toxic than lead, it is used as a replacement and is often used in compounds for cosmetics.


Sample of bismuth, notice the iridescence reflected light. image: R.Conan-Davies

Bismuth crystal. image: adapted from wikipedia

Use, natural applications or common combinations: 

  • cosmetics, pigments,(Bismuth oxychloride (BiOCl) is sometimes used in cosmetics, as a pigment in paint for eye shadows, hair sprays and nail polishes)  alloys, iridescent quality 
  • medicinal compounds (notably bismuth subsalicylate, used to treat diarrhoea)
  • lead replacement

Basic characteristics:

  • Standard atomic weight: 208.980 40(1)
  • Melting point: 271.5 °C
  • Boiling point: 1749 °C
  • Radioactivity: all naturally stable. Some isotopes have very long half lives much longer than the age of the current universe.

Wikipedia ref