By the joint action of water and air, thallium, lead, bismuth are oxidized, with formation of more or less sparingly soluble hydroxides (ThHO, PbH 2 O 2, BiH303), which, in the presence of carbonic acid, pass into still less soluble basic carbonates.
If the incrustation be white and readily volatile, arsenic is present, if more difficultly volatile and beads are present, antimony; zinc gives an incrustation yellow whilst hot, white on cooling, and volatilized with difficulty; tin gives a pale yellow incrustation, which becomes white on cooling, and does not volatilize in either the reducing or oxidizing flames; lead gives a lemon-yellow incrustation turning sulphur-yellow on cooling, together with metallic malleable beads; bismuth gives metallic globules and a dark orange-yellow incrustation, which becomes lemon-yellow on cooling; cadmium gives a reddish-brown incrustation, which is removed without leaving a gleam by heating in the reducing flame; silver gives white metallic globules and a dark-red incrustation.
In the wet process the ores, in which the bismuth is present as oxide or carbonate, are dissolved out with hydrochloric acid, or, if the bismuth is to be extracted from a matte or alloy, the solvent employed is aqua regia or strong sulphuric acid.
Lacombe in 1904 obtained the pure salts by fractional crystallization of the nitric acid solution with magnesium nitrate in the presence of bismuth nitrate.
Bismuth disulphide is a grey metallic substance, which is decomposed by hydrochloric acid with the separation of metallic bismuth and the formation of bismuth trichloride.
Trans., 1883, Part I., 153) discovered in 1881 that the resistance of a bismuth rod was slightly increased when the rod was subjected to longitudinal magnetic force, and a year or two later A.
With mercury it forms amalgams. Bismuth is a component of many ternary alloys characterized by their low fusibility and expansion in solidification; many of them are used in the arts (see Fusible Metal).
The extraction from ores in which the bismuth is present in the metallic condition may be accomplished by a simple liquation, or melting, in which the temperature is just sufficient to melt the bismuth, or by a complete fusion of the ore.
A hydrated disulphide, B12S2.2H20, is obtained by passing sulphuretted hydrogen into a solution of bismuth nitrate and stannous chloride.
If the substance does not melt but changes colour, we may have present: zinc oxide - from white to yellow, becoming white on cooling; stannic oxide - white to yellowish brown, dirty white on cooling; lead oxide - from white or yellowish-red to brownish-red, yellow on cooling; bismuth oxide - from white or pale yellow to orange-yellow or reddish-brown, pale yellow on cooling; manganese oxide - from white or yellowish white to dark brown, remaining dark brown on cooling (if it changes on cooling to a bright reddishbrown, it indicates cadmium oxide); copper oxide - from bright blue or green to black; ferrous oxide - from greyish-white to black; ferric oxide - from brownish-red to black, brownish-red on cooling; potassium chromate - yellow to dark orange, fusing at a red heat.