Author: Jan Scholten
‘My God, my God, why hast Thou deserted me?’
The remedy we know as Bismuth is Bismuth subnitricum rather than pure Bismuth. Bismuth telluride and Bismuth selenide can cause granulomatous long affections (Dreisbach).
The name is either derived from the German word ‘Wissmuth’, meaning white mass, or from the German word ‘Wiese’, meaning meadow, because a meadow is often covered in red poppies, just like Bismuth which gets a red hue from a thin layer of Bismuthoxide. Miners sometimes called it ‘tectum argenti’, or roof of silver, because silver was often found underneath a layer of Bismuth.
Another word that Bismuth might be named after is the Arabic phrase ‘bi smid’, meaning: having properties of antimony. It was discovered in 1450 and its chemical symbol is Bi.
Bismuth is a brittle, coarse, crystalline grey metal with a reddish hue. it is found in nature in little crystals amongst other metals such as tin, copper, silver, gold and uranium. It is possible to create beautiful large crystals of Bismuth with artificial methods. It expands on being cooled. Bismuth melts at 271 C. The alloys melt at even lower temperatures (down to 47 degrees C), which makes them useful as fire alarms and fuses.
Bismuth is used in the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industries. It creates beautiful transparent crystals with a reddish silvery sheen.