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Lead and Bismuth – Comparison – Properties

This article contains comparison of key thermal and atomic properties of lead and bismuth, two comparable chemical elements from the periodic table. It also contains basic descriptions and applications of both elements. Lead vs Bismuth.

lead and bismuth - comparison

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Bismuth - Properties - Price - Applications - Production

Compare bismuth with another element

Lead - Properties - Price - Applications - Production

Lead and Bismuth – About Elements


Lead is a heavy metal that is denser than most common materials. Lead is soft and malleable, and has a relatively low melting point. Lead is widely used as a gamma shield. Major advantage of lead shield is in its compactness due to its higher density. Lead has the highest atomic number of any stable element and concludes three major decay chains of heavier elements.


Bismuth is a brittle metal with a silvery white color when freshly produced, but surface oxidation can give it a pink tinge. Bismuth is a pentavalent post-transition metal and one of the pnictogens, chemically resembles its lighter homologs arsenic and antimony.

Lead in Periodic Table

Bismuth in Periodic Table

Source: www.luciteria.com

Lead and Bismuth – Applications


Lead metal has several useful mechanical properties, including high density, low melting point, ductility, and relative inertness. Lead is widely used for car batteries, pigments, ammunition, cable sheathing, weights for lifting, weight belts for diving, lead crystal glass, radiation protection and in some solders. The largest use of lead in the early 21st century is in lead–acid batteries. The lead in batteries undergoes no direct contact with humans, so there are fewer toxicity concerns. Lead is used in high voltage power cables as sheathing material to prevent water diffusion into insulation; this use is decreasing as lead is being phased out. A lead is widely used as a gamma shield. Major advantage of lead shield is in its compactness due to its higher density. On the other hand depleted uranium is much more effective due to its higher Z. Depleted uranium is used for shielding in portable gamma ray sources.


Bismuth metal is brittle and so it is usually mixed with other metals to make it useful. Its alloys with tin or cadmium have low melting points and are used in fire detectors and extinguishers, electric fuses and solders. Bismuth oxide is used as a yellow pigment for cosmetics and paints. Bismuth alloys are used in soldering, thermocouple materials and magnetic memory devices. Compounds of bismuth are used in lubricating greases, thermoelectric materials, infrared spectrometers. Bismuth oxychloride (BiOCl) is sometimes used in cosmetics, as a pigment in paint for eye shadows, hair sprays and nail polishes.

Lead and Bismuth – Comparison in Table

Element Lead Bismuth
Density 11.34 g/cm3 9.78 g/cm3
Ultimate Tensile Strength 17 MPa 4 MPa
Yield Strength 5.5 MPa 2 MPa
Young’s Modulus of Elasticity 16 GPa 32 GPa
Mohs Scale 1.5 2.5
Brinell Hardness 38 MPa 70 MPa
Vickers Hardness N/A N/A
Melting Point 327.5 °C 271 °C
Boiling Point 1740 °C 1560 °C
Thermal Conductivity 35 W/mK 8 W/mK
Thermal Expansion Coefficient 28.9 µm/mK 13.4 µm/mK
Specific Heat 0.13 J/g K 0.12 J/g K
Heat of Fusion 4.799 kJ/mol 11.3 kJ/mol
Heat of Vaporization 177.7 kJ/mol 104.8 kJ/mol