The isolation process of samarium, as with other lanthanides, is extremely complicated. Samarium occurs in such minerals as bastnasite, monazite, samarskite, and Mish metal; these minerals also contain many other rare earth elements and lanthanides that have similar chemical properties further complicate the extraction and isolation process. The procedures that are used to isolate samarium from the minerals it occurs in involve ion exchange, solvent extraction, and electrochemical deposition. Further isolation with increased purity uses electrolysis procedures. As the isolation process is highly complex, samarium is never isolated on a small laboratory basis.
The first step to samarium isolation involves separating the lanthanides and rare earth metals by treating the minerals with sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, and sodium hydroxide. Once samarium is reduced using the procedures listed above, it is in its chloride form. Electrolysis of heated, melted, samarium chloride and sodium chloride in a graphite cell separates the chloride from the samarium yielding pure samarium.