Most modern medicines are carefully synthesized organic molecules so potent that each pill contains only a few milligrams of the active ingredient. Pepto-Bismol is a fascinating exception, both because its active ingredient is bismuth, a heavy metal commonly used in shotgun pellets, and because there is a lot of it in each dose. So much, in fact, that I was able to extract a slug of bismuth metal from a pile of pink pills.
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One two-pill dose of Pepto-Bismol contains 262 milligrams (more than a quarter of a gram) of bismuth subsalicylate, and about an eighth of that weight is bismuth. It's not just bits of ground-up bismuth metal, though. The bismuth is combined chemically with salicylate, an organic molecule. To get bismuth metal, you have to reduce it chemically, the way iron ore has to be reduced to make iron metal.
I tried reducing Pepto-Bismol by heating it with charcoal, the same method used to reduce iron ore, but that didn't work very well. All I got was crumbly slag. Fortunately, I found a better procedure with an assist from science-experiment website thechemlife.com, which recommends isolating the bismuth by reaction with aluminum in an acid solution. This way requires only muriatic acid (found in the paint department at my local hardware store) and aluminum foil (found in my kitchen).
The demonstration took a while: I had to grind, dissolve, filter, precipitate, and filter the stuff again. Not unlike the digestion process Pepto aids, you start with nice colorful morsels and end up with dark crud. For logistical reasons, I had not actually tried the method before we set up the photo shoot, so it was quite a joy when I first saw beads of liquid metal form as I heated the crud, telling me that we had not wasted an entire day on a wild bismuth chase.
Hi, so what happened to the aluminum, did it end up completely in solution to be passed through the filter, or is some included with the bismuth powder/metal?
Side effects of Bismuth Subsalicylate on the human body:
Since were breaking things down, most of the human body is made up of water, H2O, with cells consisting of 65-90% water by weight. Therefore, it isn't surprising that most of a human body's mass is oxygen. Carbon, the basic unit for organic molecules, comes in second. 99% of the mass of the human body is made up of just six elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus.
11.Copper, Zinc, Selenium, Molybdenum, Fluorine, Chlorine, Iodine, Manganese, Cobalt, Iron (0.70%)
12.Lithium, Strontium, Aluminum, Silicon, Lead, Vanadium, Arsenic, Bromine (trace amounts).
Shake, mix and add a spark of soul, and you have a human, Wa-La! Well, the mixing part might be a little more complicated. ;)
we can synthesize each and every one of the components of the human body, but i think that as we keep going down to our base materials we'll always find something missing...
to mars or bust!
My science teacher just gave me permission to do this in class