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I am trying to cast bismuth, which melts at 271.4 °C. Silicone rubber seemed like a good material to use for a mold, given its flexibility and the ease with which it can be cast itself, as well as its high (~300 °C from some sources) heat tolerance.

I have had the opportunity to test casting bismuth in this way once so far (will have the opportunity to try again this weekend) using a mixture of acetoxy silicone and cornstarch as the mold, for ease of molding and quicker curing.

While the mold itself seemed to stand up well to the heating, aside from discoloration, there was a large amount of bubbling as the bismuth cooled, resulting in deformation of the final structure.

My best guess as to the cause of the bubbling is that the silicone had not finished curing, and trapped, evaporating water and acetic acid were the source of the bubbles. Is this likely to be correct, and if so, is there a way to avoid this in future casts, such as possibly by letting the silicone cure longer? Alternately, are there different formulations/materials that may perform better, without being significantly harder to make?

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, check the temperature specs on different brands (quick Google search turned up ones that did 300C no problem), and follow the instructions on curing. It may take up to 7 days to be considered fully cured. $\endgroup$ – Jon Custer Oct 21 '16 at 0:29
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Acetoxy silicone (I assume this is silicone caulk) is a bit of a different thing to the RTV silicone used for low-melt metal casting.

Really you want to find some high temperature mould silicone, this is fairly widely available from sculpture and model making suppliers and is used for things like casting white metal miniatures and jewellery.

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Outgassing of hydrogen would be a possibility. It can be picked up from moisture in the atmosphere.

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