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MINERALS KAOLIN & OTHER KAOLIN CLAYS Kaolin is a very common mineral. Kaolin is a soft, earthy, usually white mineral, produced by the chemical conditioning of aluminum silicate mineral. Kaolin is used in ceramics, medicine, bricks, coated paper, as a food additive, in toothpaste, as a light diffusing material in white incandescent light bulbs, and in cosmetics and as a filler in many other applications. Kaolin has even been used for spiritual and healing purposes! It is also being formulated as a spray to be applied to fruits and vegetables to prevent insect damage and infestation. The largest and most common use is in the paper industry. It is the main ingredient in creating "glossy" paper. Other materials such as calcium carbonate (which is an alternative material) competes with Kaolin as the most important source/ingredient for creating shiny paper.
MINERALS NATURAL STEATITE, TALC Talc is known for being the softest mineral on earth. It is number 1 on the Mohs hardness scale, and can be easily scratched by a fingernail. Talc is not commonly seen in collections, as it is usually uninteresting and fairly common, although a few deeply colored and crystallized examples are known and well sought after. Also very popular are the Talc pseudomorphs. Talc forms some very interesting pseudomorphs after many different minerals, and certain localities are known for the specific minerals replaced by Talc. Talc is a very important industrial mineral. Talc is crushed into powder to form talcum powder, which is the main ingredient in many cosmetics as well as some baby powders. Talcum powder was also used as a filler to prevent slipping in latex gloves, although its use is being replaced with corn starch which is safer for inhalation. Talc is highly resistance to heat and electricity, and is therefore used in electronics and as an insulator. It is also a filler material for paints, rubber and insecticides.
MINERALS BARYTE, WITHERITE Barite is a mineral consisting of barium sulfate. It most often occurs in hydrothermal veins and as veins in limestones. It is a relatively inert mineral with a high density. It is the primary ore of barium. The most common use of barite is as a weighting agent in drilling muds. Most barite produced is used as a weighting agent in drilling muds. These high density muds are circulated down the drill stem and return to the surface between the drill stem and the wall of the well. This action effectively flushes the cuttings produced by the drill and carries them to the surface. Barite is also used as a pigment in paints and as a weighted filler for paper and cloth. Barite's high density makes it opaque to x-rays. If it is given to a patient as a drink or enema it can be used to image the shape of internal organs by x-ray. WITHERITE Witherite is a rare mineral, especially since it easily alters to the more common mineral Barite. It alters when sulfuric acid from sulfide minerals dissolves the Witherite, and the sulfur combines with the barium element to form Barite. Witherite is also formed from Calcite that loses the calcium element which instead gets replaced by barium, thus forming Witherite in the process. Thin, long crystals and aggregates of Witherite should be handled carefully, as they are fragile and easily damaged.
MINERALS DOLOMITE is used as an ornamental stone, a concrete aggregate, a source of magnesium oxide and in the Pidgeon process for the production of magnesium. It is an important petroleum reservoir rock, and serves as the host rock for large strata-bound Mississippi Valley-Type (MVT) ore deposits of base metals such as lead, zinc, and copper. Where calcite limestone is uncommon or too costly, dolomite is sometimes used in its place as a flux for the smelting of iron and steel. Large quantities of processed dolomite are used in the production of float glass.