Extracting Bismuth From Pepto Bismol

Bismuth is a very odd metal that you see in cosmetic pigments and as a replacement for lead, since it is less toxic. You will also see it — or an alloy — in fire sprinklers since it melts readily. However, the most common place you might encounter bismuth is Pepto Bismol — the ubiquitous pink liquid you use when your stomach is upset. [NileRed] tried extracting the bismuth from Pepto Bismol some time ago, but didn’t get good results. He decided that even though the process would not be cost-effective he wanted to try again, and you can see the crystals produced in the video below.

It turns out that you don’t need the pink liquid brand name. [Red Nile] started with ten boxes of generic chewable tablets — that’s 480 pills. A little bit of dilute hydrochloric acid eats the pills apart and generates a few reactions that he explains in the video.

There was a little difficulty because the pills contained starch and this required some additional work to filter out. There were a lot of different steps and you can follow along in the video.

In theory, the pills could produce up to 72.6 grams of bismuth. He wound up with about 43 grams or about 60%. This was better than the 22% he achieved last time.

Once he had the metal, he wanted to make crystals. Bismuth crystals are very colorful and something you rarely see in nature. The crystals were not particularly large and took $120 worth of pills along with a few days of effort. So he’d have been better served by just buying bismuth.

We’ve been seeing several metal/chemistry hacks lately. We always enjoy [NileRed’s] videos. He’s made transparent wood before, for example.


17 thoughts on “Extracting Bismuth From Pepto Bismol

  1. For months and months I’ve noticed that every YouTube video you guys share, I’ve already seen it… did you guys hack my account to spy on my viewing history are you just peeping in my living room window? If it’s the latter I’ll apologize for the no pants thing.

      1. You’re going to need bismuth to make pepto…..

        So, in a post-apocalyptic world it would probably be better to just try to avoid any food that does not agree with you.
        Even better, stock-up on seeds and grow your own food.

        1. I would expect diseases, polluted water/food to be highly likely in the post-apocalyptic. So growing crystals from essential medicine is silly. Surviving is already kinda hard you know. Beggars can’t be choosers. Don’t think you would have much of a choice on food or hygiene.

          Growing food is fine for long term. It would take a few months, labor, processing and might need unpolluted water/soil. Meanwhile you still have mouth(s) to feed. :P

  2. Just writing a basic and extremly boring article about an awesome video and process. Would have been better if you actualy done some research before writing an article, since you just got all the information from the video itself. :(

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