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Acid Reflux causes and Treatment

How to Extract Bismuth Metal from Pepto-Bismol Tablets

How to Extract Bismuth Metal from Pepto-Bismol Tablets

Bismuth compounds have many different uses
in things like cosmetics, pigments and pharmaceuticals. The most notable use of bismuth in pharmaceuticals is its use in Pepto-Bismol. In Pepto-Bismol, it appears as a compound known as bismuth subsalicylate. Each pill actually contains quite a lot of this molecule and in this video we’re gonna pull out the bismuth metal from it. For the extraction of bismuth from Pepto-Bismol pills,
all that’s needed are the pills themselves, muriatic acid also known as hydrochloric acid, and aluminium foil. I used 120 pills of Pepto-Bismol, about 260 ml of 31.45% hydrochloric acid, and about 5 grams of aluminium foil. The pills from the five bottles were emptied into a mortar. Then, using a pestle, they were crushed up
into as fine powder as possible. It was kind of difficult but in the end I was left with a decent powder. To a suitable container was added 1300ml of distilled water. This was followed by the addition of 260ml of 31.45% hydrochloric acid. Because foaming in this experiment can be an issue, I opted to transfer it to a larger 4 litre Erlenmeyer Flask. With strong stirring, the bismuth powder is added. You’ll notice that when the bismuth powder is added, the pink colour quickly disappears. Depending on the dye
that’s used in the pills to make them pink, the solution might turn white like
mine did, or it might stay a pink color. After all the bismuth powder had been
added, a decent amount of foaming occurred but since I had such a large Erlenmeyer flask, this wasn’t an issue. In this reaction, we’re reacting the active
ingredient of Pepto-Bismol which is bismuth subsalicylate with hydrochloric
acid to produce bismuth chloride and salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is a side product in this reaction and since it’s not very soluble in water, it precipitates out and we’ll need to filter it off. I kept it stirring for 30 minutes to make sure that all of the bismuth subsalicylate had reacted. The mixture is then filtered through a coffee filter using a funnel. So now we have a solution that contains a decent amount of bismuth chloride and we’re ready to convert it to bismuth metal using aluminium. The solution that comes through is still white and a little cloudy but that’s okay. The moment that the aluminium is added, black bismuth metal will start to precipitate out. The aluminum reacts with the bismuth chloride to form aluminum chloride and the bismuth metal. The solution is also still quite acidic due to the HCl so that will also react with the aluminum. The aluminium was slowly consumed and more aluminium was added until the reaction was complete. To test if the reaction is complete, a small drop of the solution can be wiped on a piece of foil. If a clear solution produces a black precipitate, then there’s still bismuth chloride in solution. If it stays clear as shown here,
then the reaction is complete. If there is still bismuth chloride in the solution, it might look something like this. When the reaction was complete, the large pieces of aluminum that remained were removed. The mixture is then stirred and allowed to stand for about 30 minutes to allow for the HCl to react with any remaining aluminum. The bismuth is then filtered off using a coffee filter. I found a coffee filter actually worked best and anything with a finer grade took way too long to filter. Once it was filtered, it was washed with water to remove any water soluble salts and then it was washed with methanol to remove any salicylic acid that remained. Then instead of waiting for it to dry, I wrapped it up in the filter paper and squeezed all the water out of it and squish the bismuth into a hard ball. The still wet ball of bismuth metal was transferred to a metal crucible and then heated using a torch to drive off the water. Once it had cooled, the ball was crushed into smaller fragments. You’ll see here that some of the bismuth has turned yellow. This is because when the bismuth was heated only slightly, it became bismuth oxide. The bismuth powder and the fragments have a very high surface area and heating them only slightly allows them to quickly react with oxygen in the air. To prevent the oxidation, the bismuth metal must be melted under an inert atmosphere. Using an inert atmosphere isn’t the easiest for the average person so I found a way around this. When heated up slightly, the bismuth reacts with the oxygen to form bismuth oxide but when heated extremely hot, the bismuth oxide will break down to reform bismuth metal and the oxygen. So you can see here when I heat the metal to red-hot, the bismuth will start to liquefy. Be aware that this does release toxic vapors and it isn’t exactly the most efficient method. Here I knock down the exposure so you can more easily see the red hot globs of bismuth metal. Once everything that was going to liquefy liquefied, the bismuth metal was poured out. After cooling, this is what the final bismuth looked like. This was about 5 grams of bismuth metal which represents an extremely low yield of bismuth. The yield was a very bad 22% but even if it were 100% it still wouldn’t be a great way to get bismuth metal. The best way would be to
simply buy it online. For the same price that I paid for the pills, I could easily get over 200 grams of nearly pure bismuth metal from somewhere like eBay. Alternatively, you can dry the bismuth in an oven, crush it up and obtain the black bismuth powder. It’s best to heat it up in something that will transfer the heat well otherwise it won’t be able to get hot enough in order to break down the bismuth oxide. My torch just was not hot enough to decompose the bismuth oxide in the crucible. And instead of melting, it’s simply all oxidized and never melted. Also, the bismuth oxide can be easily turned back into the black bismuth powder by pretty much repeating the experiment. So it can be dissolved in dilute hydrochloric acid to make the bismuth chloride like before and then reprecipitated by reacting it with aluminum metal.

100 Replies to “How to Extract Bismuth Metal from Pepto-Bismol Tablets”

  • NileRed, can bismuth crystals be grown through electrolysis of bismuth chloride like you did with stannous chloride?

  • I think a glowing yellow hot thing is less accessible than nitrogen which is the air inside the chips bags

  • the easiest way to get Bismuth is to just pop its bubble, jeez your all no nothings that cant even find out where to get a Bismuth

  • Is the aluminum oxide in the final product? It's insoluble in water, so unless I missed a step it should remain in the pre-melted mass.

  • Liquid Pepto-Bismol doesn't contain bismuth last I checked. Dollar store versions generally do. I wonder if they'll take it out of the pills eventually.

  • For people asking on how to make LSD, here's how:


    1. Ergotamine tartrate

    2. Hydrazine hydrate

    3. Hydrazide

    4. Hydrochloric Acid

    5. Sodium Nitrite

    6. Sodium Bicarbonate

    7. Diethylamine

    8. Ether

    9. Flasks

    10. Filter paper

    11. Heating mantle

    12. 2 liter three-necked round bottom flask

    Time: Approximately 36 hours.


    STEP 1: In a 2 liter three-necked round bottom flask
    add to 2 grams of ergotamine tartrate about 1/2 gram
    of hydrazine hydrate. Exercise caution when adding 
    the hydrazine hydrate because it is very poisonous,
    particularly to the eyes.

    STEP 2: Place a condensing column on one neck of the 
    flask. Place a stirring device in the center neck and
    place a separatory funnel in the thick neck. (Note:
    hydrazide hydrate may be added through a separatory 
    funnel although it is not necessary.)

    STEP 3: Place the flask on a heating mantle and simmer
    the solution for 2-3 hours while stirring occasionally.

    STEP 4: Remove condensing column from flask and continue
    to cook for 10-15 minutes or until the original solution
    is reduced by half.

    STEP 5: After solution has cooled, pour the solution
    through filter paper and collect the crystals that
    formed. Wash the crystals in a small amount of
    absolute alcohol.

    STEP 6: Dissolve the crystals in about 30cc of diluted
    hydrochloric acid. (Note: diluted hydrochloric acid is
    mixed at a rate of 1 part acid to 10 or 15 parts water.)

    STEP 7: To the hydrochloric acid solution add about
    15cc of a solution of sodium nitrite diluted in water.
    (Note: one part sodium nitrite to 10 or 15 parts
    water.) Let this solution stand for about 30 minutes.

    STEP 8: To this solution add about one teaspoonful of
    sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to make the solution

    STEP 9: Place this solution in a separatory funnel and
    add to it an equal quantity of ether. Shake this
    solution gently for about 5 minutes.

    STEP 10: Separate the ether solution from the
    separatory funnel and keep the ether solution. The 
    remainder may be discarded. 

    STEP 11: Cool the ether solution to 0 degrees Celsius
    and to the solution add a solution of about .5 gram
    of diethylamine mixed with ether.

    STEP 12: Maintain the solution at 0 degrees Celsius for
    24 hours, stirring it occasionally (perhaps 4 hour

    STEP 13: Remove the solution from the ice bath and
    allow it to stand at room temperature for about 2
    hours, or until it evaporates. The remaining crystals
    will be crude LSD.

    Obviously you should not attempt this method without at least
    some first-year state level Chemistry. 

    Please be careful, this ingredients are DEADLY

    PS – Breathing in the fumes of these chemicals can send you tripping…. where a mask and gogles and do all chemestry in an air tight area!

  • I always enjoy your videos because you speak clearly, demonstrate clearly, and basically demonstrate professionalism while occasionally giving me a good laugh. You remind me of a friend of mine who now lives in Japan. I don't think it's the fact that you appear to have Asian roots, but that your voice is almost doppelgänger. Anyways… Without daring claim I know how to do any of the experiments you have done better, or even AS good as you have done, I thought I'd let you know a little ghettofied filtration I stumbled upon one day when I was out of coffee filters and needed them for a proper separation.. I ended up cutting similar to the coffee filter in size a piece of cotton off a tee shirt and found it worked better folded into a plug, jammed into the bottom of my makeshift funnel (water bottle). Like I said, ghettofied. But VERY effective. Even food dyes can be separated from the desired substrate via this method. Not always necessary, but sometimes absolutely necessary. I found you can even run things thru it more than once, but usually not necessary. Also, it can be washed by hand, using regular soap, though using my homemade soap that had just a little too much lye to be used for anything other than extreme hand washing or for cleaning that filter. If this helps, awesome. If you have better, teach me your ways oh wise one 🤗

  • Reminds me of the demonstrations of getting gold from electronic parts — neat, but not only is it expensive, it takes time, effort, and messing with powerful acids. Hurray for YouTube, where we can just watch someone else show it can be done. 8)

  • Options+ brand? Can't say I know where that one is from. Then again I'm from Alberta so we might not have that out here.

  • You said that the bismuth oxide is breaking down at very high temperature, but Wikipedia says that it doesn't break down very easily and even boils before breaking down. Is it possible that it's reduced by the steel of the crucible ?
    Edit: The molten glob could also be bismuth oxide, it has a melting point of 817°C

  • This is awesome. I'm more interested in the Bismuth Chloride for a project I'm working on. (BiCl3 is expensive!) At 2:17, before you put the aluminum in, how do you get the BiCl3 salt to fall out of solution?

  • I started making bismuth crystals recently and was shocked at how much bismuth I was losing to dross/oxidation. Then I vaguely remembered Mr NileRed heating the oxidized bismuth powder to a much higher heat to reduce the bismuth. I recovered at least ¾ of the bismuth that was supposedly lost in the dross.

  • Can you use the salicylic acid in the process of aspirin to Tylenol?
    EDIT: Just realized that's an extra product in the process… could it be used in the opposite direction? 🙂

  • makes a solid rocked engine using aluminum powder and bismuth powder as a fuel (opposing oxidation, and its the perfect material)
    fbi shows up because they think hes making a weapon

  • In theory, could you use the liquid version of pepto-bismol? Seems like it would be slightly easier as it would skip the pill-crushing step

  • Is there a way to extract bismuthfrom the tablets using sulphuric acid. Because for me it's easy to get

  • When the aluminum is reacting with the leftover HCl, is the Aluminum Chloride mixed in with the bismuth? Is there a way to get rid of it?

  • You know, I work with inert atmospheres regularly. For about 20 bucks you can rent a tank of argon and just have maybe 5-15cfh flow down onto the crucible and it will be stable enough to force out any oxygen. If you wanna go a step further, you can make a gas diffuser out of nearly anything that will slow down and spread the argon into a nice, neat column of inert gas.

    Watch some welding videos on welding titanium and you'll see alot of creative ways to keep the titanium from oxidizing.

  • The yield of bismuth in this case is very small. I do propose another more efficient way to make reduction by bithmut oxalate. White powder simply disappears, remaining liquid metal. Carbon dioxide as a by-product creates inert atmosphere and prevents oxidation.

  • What about adding borax to the crucible on top of the bismuth? The borax will melt and protect the bismuth. Any that does oxidize will liberate its oxygen and won't be able to re-oxidize because of the molten borax on top.

  • To prevent oxidation, simply fill container with the outflow from an argon cylinder. Sure, you use up the argon, but you do not need to build a container to keep air out. NOTHING reacts with argon under such circumstances.

  • Pepto isn't available in germany but since it works 4 me i had it shipped via international pharmacy and I had to pay 35$ for a 8 fl.oz. bottle!

  • Would heating the elementary powder to exactly 270 degrees celcius melt it, using a heating plate? Or does the high surface area not allow that and it oxidizes already at lower temperature?

  • This video is like when you’re writing your draft for an essay, and the most recent bismuth metal video is the final draft

  • I found the video to be very informative as I wasn't previously aware that Pepto-Bistmol had the metal, Bismuth in it. I don't like that others were trolling you and calling you stupid. That's not fair as I feel that you were being safe and showing how to do this experiment using this method.

  • Don’t look at this comment, and or like this comment. Doing so will result in a fine and and a two day suspension from YouTube.😃

  • So, I tried to recreate the experiment but I washed with ethanol. Then I tried to neutralize all the acid in my filtrate with bicarbonate and a really pretty color purple/lavender (crystaline) showed up while the reaction bubled as usual. Anyone got a theory of what could have happened im worried I made something dangerous but low key want to do it again cause it was a really colorful

  • Seems like there's only a very small amount of bismuth in each pill. Can such a small amount really have a medicinal effect for gastrointestinal issues, or is it just snake oil that Pepto-Bismol is selling?

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