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Bismuth Oxide

Alternate Names: Bismuth(III) oxide, bismite, Bismuth trioxide

Oxide Analysis Formula
Bi2O3 100.00% 1.00
Oxide Weight 465.96
Formula Weight 465.96


Bismuth oxide is derived from the ignition of bismuth nitrate which in turn is obtained from the heavy metal bismuth (found in the US, Peru, and Mexico). Bismuth is very similar to lead, however there is no evidence that it is toxic. In fact, it is used in medicines taken orally for stomach complaints.

Bismuth oxide very expensive (maybe twice the price of even tin oxide)! Thus it takes a lot to justify its use. It rivals the brilliant gloss and durability and hardness of lead in many glazes, though not all (no other material can make that claim).

Because bismuth is such a powerful flux, often very little is be needed (5% or less) to impart better melting to a glaze, in these cases it should not overly affect the oxide balance. However much larger amounts may are used for special purpose glazes, bismuth makes it possible to use highly desired material combinations and color systems that would not otherwise melt well enough using other fluxes.

Since bismuth melts a low temperature, its use in higher temperature glazes runs the risk of vaporization of some of the material. This is, of course, is dependent on time and temperature. At the same time, its ultra-low melting temperature makes it possible to produce a glass that melts at 400C (if you are willing to pay for recipe containing 90% bismuth).

Bismuth subnitrate is an alternative source, but it only sources 75% of the actual oxide by weight yet its cost as a material may not be any less.

Related Information

Bismuth Crystals

Examples of bismuth glass compositions and their expansions, softening points

Using bismuth it is possible to create very low melting glasses (or glazes). But a very high percentage is required. And bismuth is expensive.


Materials Fusion Frit FZ-915
Materials Bismuth Subnitrate
The use of bismuth in ceramic glazes, a patent from 1940
Production of Lustres by C.L. King
A Bismuth Glass the melts at 400C
Bismuth Oxide on Wikipedia
Glossary Overglaze
A method of applying decoration over the glaze surface of ceramics. It can be done before or after the glaze firing.
Typecodes Generic Material
Generic materials are those with no brand name. Normally they are theoretical, the chemistry portrays what a specimen would be if it had no contamination. Generic materials are helpful in educational situations where students need to study material theory (later they graduate to dealing with real world materials). They are also helpful where the chemistry of an actual material is not known. Often the accuracy of calculations is sufficient using generic materials.
Oxides Bi2O3 - Bismuth Oxide


Frit Softening Point820-860C
Density (Specific Gravity)8.8-9.0

By Tony Hansen

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