How to Grow Bismuth Crystals

Bismuth is an interesting element. As a heavy metal, it is relatively non-toxic and has a multitude of uses. Bismuth has also been discovered to be slightly radioactive, but don't be daunted — it has a half-life that is a billion times greater than the age of the Universe! So for all practical purposes, it can be treated as stable.

Perhaps the most amazing property of bismuth is its ability to grow into magnificent, colorful crystals. These beautiful crystals are considered the centerpiece of the element, and here's how you can do this right at your home!


  1. 1
    Find a source of bismuth. Most likely, you will need to buy some online. Pure bismuth, as of right now, is quite difficult to find among household items. For this project, it is recommended you obtain a few (3-5) pounds of bismuth.
  2. 2
    Aquire your other materials. Along with the bismuth metal, you will need:
    • A stove
    • A stainless steel saucepan
    • A spoon or fork
  3. 3
    Dress appropriately, as you will be working with hot objects. Tie back long hair, wear clothing that can cover your skin, and even wear gloves and safety goggles if you have any. Move food, drinks, and other objects away from your workspace.
  4. 4
    Drop the bismuth metal in the saucepan, and heat it up to "high". Bismuth has a melting point of only 520.6 °F (or 271.4 °C), allowing for its quick liquefaction. Continue heating untill all of the metal has melted.
  5. 5
    Turn off the heat and let the bismuth cool. This may take a while. In the meantime use a fork or spoon to scrape off any dross that's floating on the top.
  6. 6
    Observe the bismuth as it starts to cool. A crust of solid bismuth will start to form on the top, slowly crystallizing its way to the bottom of the pan. Using your utensil, touch the bismuth crust to see if it has already made its way to the bottom. If it has, it's time to pull it out.
  7. 7
    Lay the bismuth crust on a heat-proof surface, and let it sit. The remaining bismuth in the pot can be further allowed to cool, or it can be heated again to restart the process.
  8. 8
    Enjoy your bismuth crystals! As the crust starts to cool, it oxidizes in the air to form a colorful iridescence. You can use these crystals as a display in your room or as a novelty to show your friends!


  • It is highly recommended that you do not reuse the saucepan and utensil for cooking/eating. Although bismuth is not toxic, you would not want to be ingesting any residue that's remaining on the kitchenware.
  • To test if the bismuth crystals have cooled down, try adding a few drops of water on it and see if they sizzle. If they do, then it's a good idea to wait a bit more.
  • Bismuth will not stick heavily on the saucepan once it has cooled. If the pan has solidified bismuth on it, you can easily chip it off with a utensil.


  • Always be careful when working with hot objects. You must make sure that the bismuth has cooled sufficiently before it can be removed from the pan.

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Categories: Metalwork and Wire Projects | Chemistry