Baryte or barite (BaSO4) is a mineral consisting of barium sulfate. The baryte group consists of baryte, celestine, anglesite and anhydrite. Baryte is generally white or colorless, and is the main source of barium. Baryte and celestine form a solid solution (Ba,Sr)SO4.
The radiating form, sometimes referred to as Bologna Stone, attained some notoriety among alchemists for the phosphorescent specimens found in the 17th century near Bologna by Vincenzo Casciarolo.
The American Petroleum Institute specification API 13/ISO 13500, which governs baryte for drilling purposes, does not refer to any specific mineral, but rather a material that meets that specification. In practice, however, this is usually the mineral baryte.
The term “primary barytes” refers to the first marketable product, which includes crude baryte (run of mine) and the products of simple beneficiation methods, such as washing, jigging, heavy media separation, tabling, flotation. Most crude baryte requires some upgrading to minimum purity or density. Baryte that is used as an aggregate in a “heavy” cement is crushed and screened to a uniform size. Most baryte is ground to a small, uniform size before it is used as a filler or extender, an addition to industrial products, in the production of barium chemicals or a weighting agent in petroleum well drilling mud.
The name baryte is derived from the Greek word βαρύς (heavy). The American spelling is barite. The International Mineralogical Association adopted “barite” as the official spelling when it formed in 1959, but recommended adopting the older “baryte” spelling in 1978, notably ignored by the Mineralogical Society of America.
Other names have been used for baryte, including barytine, barytite, schwerspath, Heavy Spar, tiff, and blanc fixe.
Mineral associations and locations
Baryte with galena and hematite from Poland
Large baryte crystals from Nevada, US
Abandoned baryte mine shaft near Aberfeldy, Perthshire, Scotland
Baryte occurs in a large number of depositional environments, and is deposited through a large number of processes including biogenic, hydrothermal, and evaporation, among others. Baryte commonly occurs in lead-zinc veins in limestones, in hot spring deposits, and with hematite ore. It is often associated with the minerals anglesite and celestine. It has also been identified in meteorites.
Baryte has been found at locations in Brazil, Nigeria, Canada, Chile, China, India, Pakistan, Greece, Guatemala, Iran, Ireland (where it was mined on Benbulben), Liberia, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Romania (Baia Sprie), Turkey, South Africa (Barberton Mountain Land), Thailand, UK (Cornwall, Cumbria, Derbyshire, Durham, Perthshire, Argyllshire and Surrey) and in the US from Cheshire, Connecticut, De Kalb, New York and Fort Wallace, New Mexico. It is mined in Arkansas, Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Nevada and Missouri.
World baryte production for 2014 was 9.7 million tonnes. The major baryte producers (in thousand tonnes, data for 2014) are as follows: China (4,100), India (1,200), Morocco (1,200), United States (1,100), Mexico (420), Iran (350), Turkey (340) and Kazakhstan (200).
The main users of baryte in 2014 were (in million tonnes) US (3.39), China (1.45), Gulf States (0.78), the European Union and Norway (0.61), South America (0.37), India (0.35), Canada (0.29) and Africa (0.28).
77% of baryte worldwide is used as a weighting agent for drilling fluids in oil and gas exploration to suppress high formation pressures and prevent blowouts. As a well is drilled, the bit passes through various formations, each with different characteristics. The deeper the hole, the more baryte is needed as a percentage of the total mud mix. An additional benefit of baryte is that it is non-magnetic and thus does not interfere with magnetic measurements taken in the borehole, either during logging-while-drilling or in separate drill hole logging. Baryte used for drilling petroleum wells can be black, blue, brown or gray depending on the ore body. The baryte is finely ground so that at least 97% of the material, by weight, can pass through a 200-mesh (75-μm) screen, and no more than 30%, by weight, can be less than 6 μm diameter. The ground baryte also must be dense enough so that its specific gravity is 4.2 or greater, soft enough to not damage the bearings of a tricone drill bit, chemically inert, and containing no more than 250 milligrams per kilogram of soluble alkaline salts. In August 2010 API (American Petroleum Institute) published specifications to modify the 4.2 drilling grade standards for baryte to include 4.1 SG materials.
Other uses are in added-value applications which include filler in paint and plastics, sound reduction in engine compartments, coat of automobile finishes for smoothness and corrosion resistance, friction products for automobiles and trucks, radiation-shielding cement, glass ceramics and medical applications (for example, a barium meal before a contrast CAT scan). Baryte is supplied in a variety of forms and the price depends on the amount of processing; filler applications commanding higher prices following intense physical processing by grinding and micronising, and there are further premiums for whiteness and brightness and color. It is also used to produce other barium chemicals, notably barium carbonate which is used for the manufacture of LED glass for television and computer screens ( historically in cathode ray tubes); and for dielectrics.
Historically baryte was used for the production of barium hydroxide for sugar refining, and as a white pigment for textiles, paper, and paint.
Although baryte contains a “heavy” metal (barium), it is not a toxic chemical because of its extreme insolubility.
Oxygen and sulfur isotope records
Baryte with cerussite from Morocco
In the deep ocean, away from continental sources of sediment, pelagic baryte precipitates and forms a significant amount of the sediments. Since baryte has oxygen, systematics in the δ18O of these sediments have been used to help constrain paleotemperatures for oceanic crust.
The variations in sulfur isotopes (34S/32S) are being examined in evaporite minerals containing sulfur (ex, baryte) and carbonate associated sulfates (CAS) to determine past seawater sulfur concentrations which can help identify specific depositonal periods such as anoxic or oxic conditions. The use of sulfur isotope reconstruction is often paired with oxygen when a molecule contains both elements.
What is Barite
Barite is a mineral composed of barium sulfate (BaSO4). It receives its name from the Greek word “barys” which means “heavy.” This name is in response to barite’s high specific gravity of 4.5, which is exceptional for a nonmetallic mineral. The high specific gravity of barite makes it suitable for a wide range of industrial, medical, and manufacturing uses. Barite also serves as the principal ore of barium.
Barite Rose: This “barite rose” is a cluster of bladed barite crystals that have grown in sand, incorporating many of the sand grains within each crystal. Specimen and photo by Arkenstone / www.iRocks.com.
Barite often occurs as concretions and void-filling crystals in sediments and sedimentary rocks. It is especially common as concretions and vein fillings in limestone and dolostone. Where these carbonate rock units have been heavily weathered, large accumulations of barite are sometimes found at the soil-bedrock contact. Many of the commercial barite mines produce from these residual deposits.
Barite is also found as concretions in sand and sandstone. These concretions grow as barite crystallizes within the interstitial spaces between sand grains. Sometimes crystals of barite grow into interesting shapes within the sand. These structures are known as “barite roses” (see photo). They can be up to several inches in length and incorporate large numbers of sand grains. Occasionally barite is so abundant in a sandstone that it serves as the “cement” for the rock.
Barite is also a common mineral in hydrothermal veins and is a gangue mineral associated with sulfide ore veins. It is found in association with ores of antimony, cobalt, copper, lead, manganese, and silver. In a few locations barite is deposited as a sinter at hot springs.
Physical Properties of Barite
Chemical Classification Sulfate
Color Colorless, white, light blue, light yellow, light red, light green
Luster Vitreous to pearly
Diaphaneity Transparent to translucent
Cleavage Very good, basal, prismatic
Mohs Hardness 2.5 to 3.5
Specific Gravity 4.5
Diagnostic Properties High specific gravity, three cleavage directions at right angles
Chemical Composition Barium sulfate, BaSO4
Crystal System Orthorhombic
Uses Drilling mud; high-density filler for paper, rubber, plastics
The best way to learn about minerals is to study with a collection of small specimens that you can handle, examine, and observe their properties. Inexpensive mineral collections are available in the Geology.com Store.
Physical Properties of Barite
Barite is generally easy to identify. It is one of just a few nonmetallic minerals with a specific gravity of four or higher. Combine that with its low Mohs hardness (2.5 to 3.5) and its three directions of right-angle cleavage, and the mineral can usually be reliably identified with just three observations.
In the classroom, students often have difficulty identifying specimens of massive barite with fine-grained crystals. They look at the specimen, see the sugary appearance, correctly attribute it to cleavage, and apply a drop of dilute hydrochloric acid. The mineral effervesces and they think that they have calcite or a piece of marble. The problem is that the effervescence is caused by contamination. The students tested the hardness of the barite with a piece of calcite from their hardness kit. Or the specimen of barite can naturally contain calcite. However, any student who tests the specific gravity will discover that calcite or marble are incorrect identifications.
Barite is also a good mineral to use when teaching about specific gravity. Give students several white mineral specimens that are about the same size (we suggest calcite, quartz, barite, talc, gypsum). Students should be able to easily identify barite using the “heft test” (placing Specimen “A” in their right hand and Specimen “B” in their left hand and “hefting” the specimens to determine which one is heaviest). Students in third or fourth grade are capable of using the heft test to identify barite.
Gas well site: Barite is used to make high-density drilling mud for wells. Aerial photo of a gas well site. © iStockphoto / Edward Todd.
Barite from Canada: Barite from Madoc, Ontario, Canada. Specimen is approximately 4 inches (10 centimeters) across.
Uses of Barite
Most barite produced is used as a weighting agent in drilling muds. This is what 99% of the barite consumed in the United States is used for. These high-density muds are pumped down the drill stem, exit through the cutting bit and return to the surface between the drill stem and the wall of the well. This flow of fluid does two things: 1) it cools the drill bit; and, 2) the high-density barite mud suspends the rock cuttings produced by the drill and carries them up to the surface.
Barite is also used as a pigment in paints and as a weighted filler for paper, cloth and rubber. The paper used to make some playing cards has barite packed between the paper fibers. This gives the paper a very high density that allows the cards to be “dealt” easily to players around a card table. Barite is used as a weighting filler in rubber to make “anti-sail” mudflaps for trucks.
Barite is the primary ore of barium, which is used to make a wide variety of barium compounds. Some of these are used for x-ray shielding. Barite has the ability to block x-ray and gamma-ray emissions. Barite is used to make high-density concrete to block x-ray emissions in hospitals, power plants, and laboratories.
Barite compounds are also used in diagnostic medical tests. If a patient drinks a small cup of liquid that contains a barium powder in a milkshake consistency, the liquid will coat the patient’s esophagus. An x-ray of the throat taken immediately after the “barium swallow” will image the soft tissue of the esophagus (which is usually transparent to x-rays) because the barium is opaque to x-rays and blocks their passage. A “barium enema” can be used in a similar way to image the shape of the colon.
Barite from Australia: Barite from Edith River, Northern Territory, Australia. Specimen is approximately 2 inches (5 centimeters) across.
Barite from Utah: Barite from Mercur, Utah. Specimen is approximately 4 inches (10 centimeters) across.
2015 Barite Production
Country Thousand Metric Tons
United States 700
Other Countries 500
Barite production is from the USGS Mineral Commodity Summary.
The oil and gas industry is the primary user of barite worldwide. There it is used as a weighting agent in drilling mud. This is a growth industry, as global demand for oil and natural gas has been on a long-term increase. In addition, the long-term drilling trend is more feet of drilling per barrel of oil produced.
This has caused the price of barite to increase. Price levels during 2012 were between 10% and 20% higher than 2011 in many important markets. The typical price of drilling mud barite is about $150 per metric ton at the mine.
Substitutes for barite in drilling mud include celestite, ilmenite, iron ore, and synthetic hematite. None of these substitutes have been effective at displacing barite in any major market area. They are too expensive or do not perform competitively.
China and India are the leading producers of barite, and they also have the largest reserves. The United States does not produce enough barite to supply its domestic needs. In 2011 the United States produced about 700,000 metric tons of barite and imported about 2,300,000 metric tons.
The Mineral Barite
Barite is well-known for its great range of colors and varied crystal forms and habits. It is an immensely popular mineral among collectors. Barite is easily identifiable by its heavy weight, since most similar minerals are much lighter. Barite often replaces other minerals, and may even replace organic materials such as wood, shells, and fossils. It sometimes forms tufacious mounds from deposition of hot, barium-rich springs.
Controversy exists in regards to the spelling of Barite. For the last 100 years or so, this mineral has always been spelled “Barite” in the United States. In the United Kingdom, the spelling has traditionally been “Baryte”. The IMA has recently changed the official spelling from “Barite” to “Baryte”, and this has been a very controversial move, with many questioning the IMA’s logic behind this change. Most U.S. mineral collectors and mineralogists still prefer the spelling Barite, and we reflect that spelling here in this guide as well.
Barite specimens from certain locations are brown from sand inclusions, and may occur in beautiful rosette aggregates that strikingly resemble a flower. These are known as Barite “Desert Roses”. The mineral Gypsum also contains similar Desert Roses, but the Gypsum roses are much light in weight, and are more brittle and thin.
Barite is isomorphous and very similar in form with the mineral Celestine, and may partially replace it.
Barite is the primary, naturally occurring, barium-based mineral. Barium, atomic number 56, derives its name from Greek and means heavy. Barite is also known as baryte, and in Missouri is known as “tiff”. The primary countries in which commercial deposits of barite are currently found are the United States, China, India and Morocco. Barite’s high density and chemical inertness make it an ideal mineral for many applications.
The chemical formula for barite is BaSO4. It has a high specific gravity of 4.50 g/cm3. Its Mohs hardness is 3.0 to 3.5. Barite, which may be found in a variety of colors including yellow, brown, white, blue, gray, or even colorless, typically has a vitreous to pearly luster.
Barite may be found in conjunction with both metallic and nonmetallic mineral deposits. To be economically viable for extraction, barite usually needs to be the predominant material in a deposit. The types of deposits in which it is normally found include vein, residual, and bedded. Vein and residual deposits are of hydrothermal origin, while bedded deposits are sedimentary.
Major deposits in the United States have been found in Georgia, Missouri, Nevada and Tennessee. In Canada, the mineral has been mined in the Yukon Territory, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. In Mexico, barite deposits have been discovered in Hermosillo, Pueblo, Monterrey and Durango.
Drilling Industry: The overwhelming majority of the barite that is mined is used by the petroleum industry as a weighting material in the formulation of drilling mud. Barite increases the hydrostatic pressure of the drilling mud allowing it to compensate for high-pressure zones experienced during drilling. The softness of the mineral also prevents it from damaging drilling tools during drilling and enables it to serve as a lubricant. The American Petroleum Institute (API) has established specifications for the use of barite in drilling mud.
Medical Industry: An application where many people have heard of barite is within the medical field. A high-purity form of barite is used in the gastrointestinal tract where its density prevents x-ray penetration, and thus is visible on an x-ray. The outline of the gastrointestinal tract thus becomes visible allowing the determination of normal and abnormal anatomy.
Other Uses: Barite is also used in a wide variety of other applications including plastics, clutch pads, rubber mudflaps, mold release compounds, radiation shielding, television and computer monitors, sound-deadening material in automobiles, traffic cones, brake linings, paint and golf balls.
Most barite is mined from layers of sedimentary rock which formed when barite precipitated onto the bottom of the ocean. Some smaller mines utilize barite from veins, which formed when barium sulfate was precipitated from hot subterranean waters. In some cases, barite is a by-product of mining lead, zinc, silver, or other metal ores Like the ones we have from the Barrick gold strike mine.
bladed crystals that have two large pinacoid faces top and bottom and small prism faces forming a jutting angle on every side. There are many variations of these faces but the flattened blades and tabular crystals are the most common. If the pinacoid faces become diminished or are absent, the resulting prismatic crystal has a rhombic cross section. Also scaly, lamellar, and can even be fiberous.
Barite is distinguished from calcite by it’s insolubility in acid, from feldspar by its softness,
from celestite and anhydrite by the orange fluorescence after firing or when powdered
barite produces a light green flame. While celestite produces a reddish flame. From fluorite
by its lack of the typical fluorite fluorescence.
The specimens we have on our site come from the Barrick gold strike mine in Nevada. Barite is abundant. So there are many world wide localities. Large barite crystals have come from Cumberland, England. Flat colorless or yellowish crystals mixed with stibnite needles have come from Felsobanya, Rumania. On the web you can find specimens for sale from such places as Missouri. Where good white to clear crystals, some a foot long, have been found . Once again the popular “Barite Roses” which have a reddish brown color and sandy texture, are found near Norman, Oklahoma. Fine crusts of blue crystals are found near Sterling, Colorado. Great concretions, known as “septarian nodules,” are for sale from the Bad Lands of South Dakota. There are many other localities such as Illinois, Morocco and Tennessee.We have some Strontiobarite from the Elm Wood deposit in Tennessee.
Barite is an important commercial mineral. Barite “mud” is poured into deep oil wells. The heavy mud helps to flush rock chips away from the drilling head and float them to the surface for inspection. The heavy mud also partially supports the enormous weight of the steel drilling tools. Barite also has economic value as a common ore for the metal barium. Barite is also used as an aggregate to make a stronger type of cement. Barite can be ground and used as a filler or extender in industrial products. Such as paper, cosmetics, paint, linoleum or a weighting agent in petroleum. Barite is also used to line the intestines when conducting X-rays and is commonly used to enhance brilliance in glass products. Even though barite contains the heavy metal barium. It is not thought to be a toxic chemical because it is very insoluble.
FACTS & HISTORY:
The name Barite was derived from the Greek word “barus” (heavy) referring to the minerals high specific gravity. Several hundred years ago, a massive, variety of barite from Italy was found to phosphoresce when it was lightly heated. It was called “Bologna stone” from its locale of discovery. It was of great interest to alchemists.
Bentonite is an absorbent aluminum phyllosilicate clay consisting mostly of montmorillonite. It was named by Wilbur C. Knight in 1898 after the Cretaceous Benton Shale near Rock River, Wyoming.
The different types of bentonite are each named after the respective dominant element, such as potassium (K), sodium (Na), calcium (Ca), and aluminum (Al). Experts debate a number of nomenclatorial problems with the classification of bentonite clays. Bentonite usually forms from weathering of volcanic ash, most often in the presence of water. However, the term bentonite, as well as a similar clay called ton stein, has been used to describe clay beds of uncertain origin. For industrial purposes, two main classes of bentonite exist: sodium and calcium bentonite. In stratigraphy and tephrochronology, completely devitrified (weathered volcanic glass) ash-fall beds are commonly referred to as K-bentonites when the dominant clay species is illite. Other common clay species that are sometimes dominant are montmorillonite and kaolinite. Kaolinite-dominated clays are commonly referred to as ton steins and are typically associated with coal.
Sodium bentonite expands when wet, absorbing as much as several times its dry mass in water. Because of its excellent colloidal properties, it is often used in drilling mud for oil and gas wells and boreholes for geotechnical and environmental investigations. The property of swelling also makes sodium bentonite useful as a sealant, since it provides a self-sealing, low permeability barrier. It is used to line the base of landfills, for example. Various surface modifications to sodium bentonite improve some rheological or sealing performance in geoenvironmental applications, for example, the addition of polymers.
Calcium bentonite is a useful adsorbent of ions in solution, as well as fats and oils. It is the main active ingredient of fuller’s earth, probably one of the earliest industrial cleaning agents.
Calcium bentonite may be converted to sodium bentonite (termed sodium beneficiation or sodium activation) to exhibit many of sodium bentonite’s properties by an ion exchange process. In common usage, this means adding 5–10% of a soluble sodium salt such as sodium carbonate to wet bentonite, mixing well, and allowing time for the ion exchange to take place and water to remove the exchanged calcium. Some properties, such as viscosity and fluid loss of suspensions, of sodium-beneficiated calcium bentonite (or sodium-activated bentonite) may not be fully equivalent to those of natural sodium bentonite. For example, residual calcium carbonates (formed if exchanged cations are insufficiently removed) may result in inferior performance of the bentonite in geosynthetic liners.
Also known as potash bentonite or K-bentonite, potassium bentonite is a potassium-rich illicit clay formed from alteration of volcanic ash.
Bentonite used as cat litter
Creating a bentonite slurry for fining after wine pressing
The main uses of bentonite are for drilling mud, binder (e.g. foundry-sand bond, iron ore pelletizer), purifier, absorbent (e.g. pet litter), and as a groundwater barrier. As of around 1990, almost half of the US production of bentonite was used for drilling mud.
Bentonite is used in drilling fluids to lubricate and cool the cutting tools, to remove cuttings, and to help prevent blowouts. Much of bentonite’s usefulness in the drilling and geotechnical engineering industry comes from its unique rheological properties. Relatively small quantities of bentonite suspended in water form a viscous, shear-thinning material. Most often, bentonite suspensions are also thixotropic, although rare cases of rheopectic behavior have also been reported. At high enough concentrations (about 60 grams of bentonite per liter of suspension), bentonite suspensions begin to take on the characteristics of a gel (a fluid with a minimum yield strength required to make it move). So, it is a common component of drilling mud used to curtail drilling fluid invasion by its propensity for aiding in the formation of mud cake.
Bentonite has been widely used as a foundry-sand bond in iron and steel foundries. Sodium bentonite is most commonly used for large castings that use dry molds, while calcium bentonite is more commonly used for smaller castings that use “green” or wet molds. Bentonite is also used as a binding agent in the manufacture of iron ore (taconite) pellets as used in the steelmaking industry. Bentonite, in small percentages, is used as an ingredient in commercially designed clay bodies and ceramic glazes. Bentonite clay is also used in pyrotechnics to make end plugs and rocket engine nozzles.
The ionic surface of bentonite has a useful property in making a sticky coating on sand grains. When a small proportion of finely ground bentonite clay is added to hard sand and wetted, the clay binds the sand particles into a moldable aggregate known as green sand used for making molds in sand casting. Some river deltas naturally deposit just such a blend of clay silt and sand, creating a natural source of excellent molding sand that was critical to ancient metalworking technology. Modern chemical processes to modify the ionic surface of bentonite greatly intensify this stickiness, resulting in remarkably dough-like yet strong casting sand mixes that stand up to molten metal temperatures.
The same effluvial deposition of bentonite clay onto beaches accounts for the variety of plasticity of sand from place to place for building sand castles. Beach sand consisting of only silica and shell grains does not mold well compared to grains coated with bentonite clay. This is why some beaches are much better for building sand castles than others.
The self-stickiness of bentonite allows high-pressure ramming or pressing of the clay in molds to produce hard, refractory shapes, such as model rocket nozzles. To test whether a particular brand of cat litter is bentonite, simply ram a sample with a hammer into a sturdy tube with a close-fitting rod; bentonite will form a very hard, consolidated plug that is not easily crumbled.
Bentonites are used for decolorizing various mineral, vegetable, and animal oils. They are also used for clarifying wine, liquor, cider, beer, and vinegar.
Bentonite has the property of adsorbing relatively large amounts of protein molecules from aqueous solutions. Consequently, bentonite is uniquely useful in the process of winemaking, where it is used to remove excessive amounts of protein from white wines. Were it not for this use of bentonite, many or most white wines would precipitate undesirable flocculent clouds or hazes upon exposure to warm temperatures, as these proteins denature. It also has the incidental use of inducing more rapid clarification of both red and white wines.
Bentonite is used in a variety of pet care items such as cat litter to absorb the odor and surround the feces. It is also used to absorb oils and grease.
The property of swelling on contact with water makes sodium bentonite useful as a sealant, since it provides a self-sealing, low-permeability barrier. It is used to line the base of landfills to prevent migration of leachate, for quarantining metal pollutants of groundwater, and for the sealing of subsurface disposal systems for spent nuclear fuel. Similar uses include making slurry walls, waterproofing of below-grade walls, and forming other impermeable barriers, e.g., to seal off the annulus of a water well, to plug old wells.
Bentonite can also be “sandwiched” between synthetic materials to create geosynthetic clay liners (GCLs) for the aforementioned purposes. This technique allows for more convenient transport and installation, and it greatly reduces the volume of bentonite required. It is also used to form a barrier around newly planted trees to constrain root growth so as to prevent damage to nearby pipes, footpaths and other infrastructure. Farmers use bentonite to seal retention ponds.
Bentonite has been prescribed as a bulk laxative, and it is also used as a base for many dermatologic formulas. Granular bentonite is being studied for use in battlefield wound dressings. Bentonite is also sold online and in retail outlets for a variety of indications.
Bentoquatam is a bentonate-based topical medication intended to act as a shield against exposure to urushiol, the oil found in plants such as poison ivy or poison oak.
Bentonite can also be used as a desiccant due to its adsorption properties. Bentonite desiccants have been successfully used to protect pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and diagnostic products from moisture degradation and extend shelf life. In fact, in the most common package environments, bentonite desiccants offer a higher adsorption capacity than silica gel desiccants. Bentonite complies with the FDA for contact with food and drugs.
In Thai Farming
The application of clay technology by farmers in northeast Thailand, using bentonite clay, has dramatically reversed soil degradation and resulted in greater economic returns, with higher yields and higher output prices. Studies carried out by The International Water Management Institute and partners in 2002–2003 focused on the application of locally sourced bentonite clays to degraded soils in the region. These applications were carried out in structured field trials. Applying bentonite clays effectively improved yields of forage sorghum grown under rain-fed conditions.
Bentonite application also influenced the prices that farmers received for their crops. Production costs are higher, but due to more production and the quality of the food, clay farmers could afford to invest and grow more and better food, compared to nonclay-using farmers.
Bentonite slurry walls in modern construction
Bentonite slurry walls (also known as diaphragm walls) are used in construction, where the slurry wall is a trench filled with a thick colloidal mixture of bentonite and water. A trench that would collapse due to the hydraulic pressure in the surrounding soil does not collapse as the slurry balances the hydraulic pressure. Forms for concrete, and rebar, can be assembled in a slurry-filled trench, and then have concrete poured into the form. The liquid concrete being denser displaces the less-dense bentonite slurry and causes the latter to overflow from the trench. This displaced bentonite slurry is then channeled to a recycling unit from which it can subsequently be reused in a new trench elsewhere on the construction site.
In addition, because the colloid is relatively impervious to water, a slurry wall can prevent the seepage of groundwater, which is useful in preventing the further spread of groundwater that has been contaminated by toxic material such as industrial waste.
History and natural occurrence
Further information: List of countries by bentonite production
In 2011, the U.S. was the top producer of bentonite, with almost one-third world share, followed by China and Greece.
Most high-grade natural sodium bentonite is produced from the western United States in an area between the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming and the Tokat Resadiye region of Turkey. Mixed sodium/calcium bentonite is mined in Greece, Australia, India, Russia, and the Ukraine.
In the United States, calcium bentonite is mined primarily in Mississippi and Alabama. Other major locations producing calcium bentonite include Germany, Greece, Turkey, India, and China.
Bentonite clay has been traditionally used to promote internal cleansing and has become a popular ingredient in a number of detoxification programs. Many people have used bentonite clay to address symptoms of constipation, like bloating and gas. Some have even cited it as effective against more serious gastrointestinal conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome. Research has also revealed its role in protecting the immune system and combating the effects of various toxins present in the environment
Six Health Benefits of Bentonite Clay
Bentonite clay has been used for centuries, and research is catching up and investigating its long term use. As a detox tool, bentonite clay may be helpful for reducing dietary and environmental toxins, supporting the immune system, and helping to remove fluoride from drinking water. Here are some of the researched benefits of bentonite clay.
- Removes Fluoride
One study found that bentonite clay, when combined with magnesium chloride, successfully reduced fluoride contained in fluoridated water. This may provide hope for the development of a natural filtration technique in the future, especially considering the rising concern of fluoride on human health.
- Combats Dietary Toxins
Aflatoxin is a type of mold-like compound produced by organisms that thrive on a variety of different food crops. These toxic substances are detectable in peanut butter and some cooking oils, and research shows that they can interfere with the functioning of the immune system. Aflatoxins may also contribute to possible liver damage, including liver cancer. Animal models have shown that bentonite clay may reduce health damage associated with the ingestion of dietary aflatoxin.
- Fights Environmental Toxins
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) is a term describing an assortment of chemicals emitted from cleaning supplies, paint, office equipment, permanent markers, pesticides, building materials, and hundreds of other everyday items. Breathing in these compounds is commonplace for many people, as indoor paints often contain many of these health-damaging chemicals. Bentonite clay has been shown to adsorb VOCs, possibly reducing human exposure to these dangerous compounds. Determining the proper application of bentonite as a VOC-reducing agent is still being researched.
- Toxic Metal Cleansing
Bentonite clay is typically used for cleansing the body of toxic metals, compounds that may degrade the health of the body over time. The most damaging toxic metals are mercury, cadmium, lead, and benzene, compounds contained in some processed foods (especially those with high fructose corn syrup), drinking water, building materials, and the environment. One study has revealed that bentonite clay may be helpful for reducing these harmful metals.
- Cleans Contaminated Soil
Soil near busy highways or roads can often be contaminated with a variety of metals, pollutants, and toxic chemicals. Much of the contamination in soil has been built up for decades, and many of these chemicals can interfere with the quality of the soil and crop production. Organic chemical compounds, like benzene, toluene, and xylene, are often found in contaminated soil. These aromatic chemicals are carcinogenic, and exposure to them over time can lead to negative health effects. Bentonite clay may be helpful for reducing soil contaminates by acting as an amendment to chemically-adulterated soil.
- Immune System Support
Bentonite clay has been shown to be protective against agents responsible for reducing the effectiveness of the immune system, and animal models show that bentonite clay may be a possible immune system strengthener. In one study, broiler chickens were fed food containing aflatoxins to test their immune response. Aflatoxins seemed to initiate unfavorable effects in the immune system, an action that can increase the animals’ predisposition to a number of diseases. Following the administering of bentonite clay, the aflatoxins’ immune-degrading effects were significantly suppressed.
Never heard of bentonite clay before? Well, then you may be very surprised to hear that it’s a “healing clay” that cleanses and heals the body. In fact, many people enjoy bentonite clay benefits by taking internally (in other words, drinking and eating it), on top of using it externally on the skin.
Bentonite clay, also called Montmorillonite clay, is taking off as a wellness trend among people who are looking to help detoxify their bodies and defend against illnesses. While it’s been used for centuries around the world to promote better health and ward off disease, this healing clay recently gained some spotlight in the U.S. and Europe as a trusted product* that can be added to any detoxification program.
Bentonite Clay Benefits in History
Bentonite clay is composed of ash made from volcanos. The largest known source of bentonite clay is found in Fort Benton, Wyoming where numerous volcanos are present, so the name of the clay stems from the town where today much of the supply is still harvested.
The other name that bentonite clay is typically given, Montmorillonite clay, stems from the region of France called Montmorillonite, where the clay was first discovered. Today the clay is harvested mostly in the U.S., France and Italy. “Bentonite” is actually the trade name that the clay has been given, but people for the most part speak about Montmorillonite and Bentonite clay interchangeably and are referring to the same product.
Bentonite clay stems back far in history as a traditional healing method for protecting the body from disease. It has been reported that several traditional cultures living in regions of the Andes, Central Africa and Australia have consumed clays in numerous ways for centuries. Because the clay is readily available and required no modern processing, it has been a popular and cost-effective way of “detoxing” the body for quite some time.
How Bentonite Clay Works
We come into contact with a range of toxins numerous times every day, as toxins are given off from common products like paint, cleaning supplies, markers, substances used in building homes, low-quality unpurified water, and even pesticides that are widely sprayed regions that have farming present. It is quite common to inject a range of different toxins just by breathing in the fumes that are present all around us, not to mention the toxins that we receive from an unhealthy diet filled with low-quality processed foods.
“Heavy metal toxins” usually refer to substances like mercury, cadmium, lead and benzene. These can be found in the products previously mentioned, and also in foods that contain high fructose corn syrup or certain types of fish. Bentonite clay benefits your body by helping to expel many of these toxins (thus as part of a heavy metal detox) and can increase immunity and reduce inflammation.
On top of being able to draw-out toxins from the body, the clay itself has a range of nutrients. Bentonite clay is known to have an abundance of minerals, including calcium, magnesium, silica, sodium, copper, iron and potassium.
When ingested into the body, either in a drink form or by eating the clay, its vitamins and minerals are absorbed similarly to how a supplement would be. Therefore, some people use it as a supplement since the clay is a natural source of important dietary nutrients.
Bentonite clay also benefits the body because it has the ability to produce a charge that is electrical in nature when it comes in contact with liquid — similar to how earthling (touching your bare feet to the earth, in particular wet grass). When the clay touches any type of fluid (normally water), it takes on a different charge and is thought to bind to any present toxins within the fluid.
While in its natural state, bentonite clay has negatively charged electrons intact, most toxins and heavy metals have positively charged electrons. This allows the two to bind together easily and stay united while the toxin removal process happens.
Bentonite clay essentially “seeks” toxins in the body to bind with because naturally any substance that has a missing ion (which gives it its “charge”) looks for oppositely charged types of substances that will make it complete. Upon binding, the clay is then able to help remove toxins, chemicals, impurities and “heavy metals” from the gut, skin and mouth.
If you ever use chia seeds in baking and combine them with any milk or water, you have likely experienced their ability to swell and soak up the fluid that is around them, creating a gel-like consistency. Bentonite clay has a similar ability: It absorbs the liquids that is comes into contact with and expands to extract toxins from the liquid.
Bentonite Clay Benefits and Uses
Used on the Skin to Heal Eczema, Dermatitis & Psoriasis
When combined with water and left to dry on the skin as a clay mask, the clay is able to bind to bacteria and toxins living on the surface of the skin and within pores to extract these from the pours. This helps to reduce the outbreak of blemishes, alleviate redness, and also to fight allergic reactions from irritating lotions or face washes, and even helps help poison ivy.
Thanks to the clay’s special ability to act as an antibiotic treatment when applied topically to the skin, the clay can help to calm skin infections and speed up healing time of wounds or eczema, even when prescription antibiotics were not able to help solve the problem.
Used in the Bath as a Soaking Liquid to Remove Toxins
The clay can be added to your bath water and used as a soaking liquid, binding to the toxins that are dispelled from your skin. The clay leaves skin feeling smooth, hydrated, and less inflamed, all while you relax in the tub effortlessly!
Allows Cells to Receive More Oxygen
Bentonite clay helps to get oxygen into the cells because it has the ability to pull excess hydrogen from the cells, leaving room for oxygen to take its place.
When cells have more oxygen entering them, you feel more energized and your body can repair itself more easily from illness or hard workouts, including improving muscle recovery.
Alkalizes the Body
Much of the foods that are present in the “Standard American Diet” have an acidic reaction in the body, meaning they alter the body’s preferred pH level to make it more acidic than we’d like for it to be.
The less healthy someone’s diet is, normally the more acidic their body is. This is the case because the stomach needs to work extra hard to produce strong acids in order to break down these foods, creating the need for even more alkalizing foods to balance things out.
Proper digestion requires enzymes that are made from alkalizing minerals, so when alkalizing foods do not enter the body, acidity remains high and digestion suffers. Bentonite clay contains alkalizing minerals, which brings the level of the body’s pH to a more optimal balance between acidity and alkalinity, helping to make the blood, saliva and urine more alkaline.
By removing toxins, digestive-distress causing chemicals and heavy metals from the gut, bentonite clay helps to promote the “good bacteria” or probiotics living in your gut wall and decrease the amount of harmful “bad bacteria.”
A healthy gut wall prevents us from experiencing malabsorption of nutrients from our food, increases our immunity, and also helps to elevate our mood and brain function. Research has also shown that bentonite clay can bind to particular toxins like “aflatoxins” that are common in the standard diet, found in things like peanuts and some grains.
When left unattended, an influx of aflatoxins can contribute to liver damage and potentially even the onset of certain cancers. Because of bentonite clay’s negatively charged electrons, it’s able to withstand acids found in the gut and survive long enough to bind to toxins.
Relieves Digestive Problems (Constipation, IBS, Nausea, etc.)
Thanks to its ability to neutralize bacteria in the cut and kill viruses, bentonite clay helps to alleviate many digestive problems. It is often used as relief for nausea and vomiting by pregnant women, is a safe way to remedy constipation, and helps with IBS.
Results from one study carried out in 1998 showed that bentonite clay was extremely successful at absorbing harmful rotavirus and coronavirus toxins within the gut of young mammals. Rotaviruses are one of the leading causes of gastrointestinal distress, such as diarrhea and nausea, in infants and toddlers.
Bentonite clay benefits your pets as well. It is safe for pet consumption within your own home and can alleviate pet’s nausea and vomiting in the same way. You can add bentonite clay to your pet’s water to help reduce symptoms like vomiting. Mix ¼ cup or less of the clay into their water until it dissolves; they should not taste anything or even notice that it’s there, but should feel better pretty quickly.
Boosts Immunity by Killing Harmful Bacteria and Viruses
Bentonite clay was also found to be effective at killing harmful bacteria. In a study published by the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, “results indicate that specific mineral products have intrinsic, heat-stable antibacterial properties, which could provide an inexpensive treatment against numerous human bacterial infections.”
More research is still needed on the topic but results of studies so far appear to be promising in terms of how the clay can be used as a treatment for these gut-related illnesses. On top of killing these types of infections and viruses, bentonite clay benefits your immune system by keeping the gut wall strong.
Much of the immune system actually lives inside of the gut, and when the gut wall is compromised, toxins are better able to leach into the bloodstream and cause serious problems. By protecting the gut wall and decreasing the amount of pesticides, toxins, bacteria and chemicals that could potentially enter the blood, the body is better able to protect its health.
Improves the Health of Teeth and Gums
The mouth is one of the most susceptible areas of the body when it comes to harmful outside “invaders” taking over, like bacteria and toxins.
Bentonite clay binds to unhealthy substances in the mouth, such as around the teeth and on the tongue and gums, and helps to remove them before you swallow them and become sick. Because of Bentonite’s antibacterial properties, it has been used in natural toothpastes and even mixed with water and used as a daily rinse.
Bentonite clay has been researched as an effective way to remove some of the fluoride that is often in drinking water.
When combined with magnesium, the clay has been shown to benefit the purity of tap water, which leads to some promising possibilities for using it in the future as a widespread cost-effective water purification method. (7)
Useful As a Baby Powder Alternative
Bentonite clay can be applied to any area on the skin of babies that is irritated, red or needs soothing in the same way that traditional powders are used. Plus, it is very gentle and naturally cleansing.
Apply a small amount of the clay directly to the skin and allow it to sit for several minutes before wiping/rinsing it away.
How to Effectively Start Using Bentonite Clay
Bentonite clay normally comes in a gray or cream color, not a bright white color, which can indicate that it may have gone bad. The clay should also be odorless and not have much of any taste at all.
If you plan on consuming bentonite clay by mouth (ingesting it either by eating or drinking the clay), try this:
Drink 1/2 to 1 teaspoon once per day as many days of the week as you’d like. Mix the clay with water, preferably in a jar with a lid where you can shake the clay and make it dissolve. Then drink it right away.
If you plan on only using it externally on your skin, try this:
Enjoy the bentonite clay benefits by adding a ¼ of a cup of the clay to your bath and massage your skin with it. Or just allow the clay to dissolve into the water and soak it in for as long as you’d like, then rinse your skin well with clean water.
Try gargling the clay in your mouth with some water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, similarly to using mouth wash. Then spit out the clay and rinse your mouth with clean water.
Try creating a face mask by smearing the clay directly onto your skin, especially anywhere where you have blemishes, red spots, irritations or scarring. Allow the clay to dry (this usually takes about 20 minutes) and then rinse it off with warm water. It’s recommended to use the clay mask one or twice per week for best results.
For scrapes or bug bites, apply a concentrated amount of the clay directly to the trouble area and cover with a Band-Aid or gauze, then let it sit for about 2 hours, then rinse it off.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive and safe way to help rid toxins from your body, consider trying bentonite clay in one of its many uses. Whether you are looking to clear skin irritations or undergo a more dramatic internal detox, experiment with this traditional and completely natural method of healing that has been practiced for hundreds of years. I personally use Redmond Bentonite Clay.
Some bentonite clay products contains trace amounts of lead and may not be appropriate for consumption by children and pregnant women.
Though they have been largely forgotten in recent times, Bentonite Clay and other healing clays have been used by cultures throughout history for their nutrients and to help rid the body of toxins. Many animals will instinctively turn to eating dirt and clay to help remove poisons from their systems or during times of illness or distress.
In recent times, healing clays like bentonite clay have once again gained popularity for internal and external detoxification, and with good reason.
What is Bentonite Clay?
According to Mountain Rose Herbs:
Bentonite, also referred to as Montmorillonite, is one of the most effective and powerful healing clays. Bentonite can be used externally as a clay poultice, mud pack or in the bath and, in skin care recipes. A good quality Bentonite should be a grey/cream color and anything bordering “pure white” is suspect. It has a very fine, velveteen feel and is odorless and non-staining. The type of bentonite offered by Mountain Rose herbs is a Sodium Bentonite.
Bentonite Clay is composed of aged volcanic ash. The name comes from the largest known deposit of Bentonite Clay located in Fort Benton, Wyoming.;
What Does it Do?
Bentonite Clay is a unique clay due to its ability to produce an “electrical charge” when hydrated. Upon contact with fluid, its electrical components change, giving it the ability to absorb toxins. Bentonite is known for its ability to absorb and remove toxins, heavy metals, impurities, and chemicals.
As Mountain Rose Herbs explains:
Bentonite is a swelling clay. When it becomes mixed with water it rapidly swells open like a highly porous sponge. From here the toxins are drawn into the sponge through electrical attraction and once there, they are bound.
Bentonite clay carries a strong negative charge which bonds to the positive charge in many toxins. When it comes in contact with a toxin, chemical, or heavy metal, the clay will absorb the toxin and release it’s minerals for the body to use. Bentonite also helps get oxygen to cells as it pulls excess hydrogen and allows the cells to replace it with oxygen instead.
Bentonite clay is a common ingredient in detox and cleansing products. It has an alkalizing effect on the body and when taken correctly, it can help balance gut bacteria.
Personally, I’ve seen people benefit from taking Bentonite Clay to help with:
Digestive disturbances like acid reflux, constipation, bloating, gas, etc. (Kaolin clay was common ingredient in medicines like Maalox and Rolaids for years)
Helping with skin and allergy issues
To help provide minerals for the body
To help speed recovery from vomiting and diarrhea
In oral health preparations
Externally for all types of skin problems and to speed healing
Healing clays like Bentonite have a high concentration of minerals including silica, calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, and potassium.
Even Dr. Weston A Price, in his book “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” reported that several native cultures including those in the Andes, Central Africa and Australia consumed clays in various ways, most often my carrying balls of dried clay in their bags and dissolving a small amount of the clay in water with meals to prevent poisoning from any toxins present.
In a study from Arizona State University, bentonite clay was found to be highly effective at killing MRSA as well as Salmonella, E.Coli and others.What is promising as research continues in this area is that depending on the method in which the clay kills the infection, it may not be possible for the MRSA or other bacteria to develop a resistance to it as it does with antibiotics.
How to Use Bentonite Clay
Bentonite (and other clays) are staples in my homemade herbal cabinet and medicine chest. I’ve used them internally and externally for various issues on myself, my husband my kids. I order from here and it is an inexpensive natural remedy.
Important Notes: Do not let healing clays like Bentonite come in to contact with anything metal, as this will reduce the effectiveness. I mix with water in a glass jar with a plastic lid by shaking well or using a plastic whisk. If you take it internally, do not take within an hour of food for best results and do not take within 2 hours of medications or supplements as it might reduce their effectiveness. Check with your doctor before using if you have any medical condition.
On the Skin: Externally, I apply a paste of bentonite clay and water on any skin irritation like blemishes, insect bites, cuts, skin itching, or burns. I leave it on until it dries and wash off. This is said to be especially calming to skin itching from eczema, psoriasis, chicken pox, etc.
Skin Poultice for Bites/Burns/Cuts/Stings: For more severe issues, I create a poultice by putting a thick layer of clay on the skin and applying a wet gauze or cloth over it. I wrap the area and leave the poultice on, changing every 2 hours.
Face Mask: For smooth and healthy skin, I make a paste of bentonite and water and apply to my face as a mask (a similar mask is used in many spas). I leave on for 20 minutes and wash off. I typically do this once or twice a week.
Detox Bath: I sometimes add about 1/4 cup of Bentonite Clay to a bath for a relaxing detox bath that softens skin.
For Oral Health: Because of its excellent ability to bind to heavy metals and toxins as well as to provide minerals, I use Bentonite Clay in my Remineralizing Tooth Powder Recipe. It can even be used alone for brushing and is tasteless and relatively texture less.
Oral Rinse to whiten and remineralize teeth: Besides the use in my tooth powder, I use Bentonite mixed with water as an alkalizing and toxin removing mouth rinse. I mix 1/2 teaspoon of clay in 1/4 cup water in a small jar with a plastic lid and shake well. Then, I rinse with the water for 1-2 minutes and repeat until I’ve used it all.
For Mastitis: I’ve created a poultice or mask of Bentonite Clay and water and applied externally to the area. I repeat as needed every hour until the infection is gone. I also take internally during infection along with Vitamin C and fermented cod liver oil.
For Baby Powder: Plain Bentonite Clay makes a very soothing baby powder for use when there is infection or redness. It can also be made into a clay “mask” to help speed recovery in this area.
For Morning Sickness: I took 1/2 tsp of Bentonite Clay in water during early pregnancy to ward off morning sickness. It helped with the nausea and helped me feel better. I checked with my doc/midwife first and was told this was fine. Check with your doctor or medical professional before using during pregnancy.
For Internal Cleansing: I drink 1/2 to 1 teaspoon most days in a cup of water. I combine in a glass jar with a plastic lid and shake until well incorporated. This has helped improve my digestion and also seems to give me more energy. Since adding this and getting gelatin in my diet or through Gelatin powder daily I also notice that my nails and hair grow more quickly. Make sure that any clay taken internally is labeled safe for internal use. Redmond Clay is one good option.
For Pets: For pets that are sick, vomiting or showing signs of illness, you can add Bentonite to their water or mix and give orally with a dropper or syringe without the needle. I have seen several cases where this helped pets recover quickly from what could otherwise have been serious illnesses.
Though I have not needed to use for these reasons personally, I have read cases of Bentonite and other healing clays being used internally to help reduce radiation exposure, in alternative cancer treatments, and in MRSA infections. It is also said to greatly help in Parasite removal, though I have not tried this personally.
Bentonite clay for internal healing
The idea of eating clay to promote internal healing will undoubtedly appear to many as farfetched, if not a little primitive.
But natural clay, especially the form known as “bentonite clay”, has not only been used medicinally for hundreds of years by indigenous cultures around the planet, but has, in recent years, been increasingly used by practitioners of alternative medicine as a simple but effective internal cleanser to help in preventing and alleviating various health problems.
The name “bentonite clay” refers to a clay first identified in cretaceous rocks in Fort Benton, Wyoming. Although bentonite deposits can be found throughout the world, many of the largest concentrations of clay are located in the Great Plains area of North America.
Bentonite is not a mineral, but a commercial name for “montmorillonite”, the active mineral in many medicinal clays. The name “ montmorillonite” comes from the city Montmorillonite, in France, where the medicinal clay was first identified.
Bentonite clay – used by indigenous tribes and animals for centuries
Clay is one of the most effective natural intestinal detoxifying agents available to us and has been used for hundreds of years by native tribes around the globe.
Primitive tribes have traditionally used various types of clay for conditions of toxicity. Dr. Weston A. Price in his book, “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration (1), stated that in studying the diets of native tribes he examined their knapsacks. Among the tribes examined in the high Andes, in Central Africa and the Aborigines of Australia, Dr. Price reported that some knapsacks contained balls of volcanic ash clay, a little of which was dissolved in water. Pieces of food were then dipped into the clay.
Animals in the wild, drawn to clay deposits by instinct, have been observed licking the clay as part of their everyday diet as well as rolling in it to get relief from injuries.
Liquid bentonite for elimination
Taken internally, liquid bentonite supports the intestinal system in the elimination of toxins. Liquid bentonite is inert which means it passes through the body undigested.
Bentonite clay is made up of a high number of tiny platelets, with negative electrical charges on their flat surfaces and positive charges on their edges.
When bentonite clay absorbs water and swells up, it is stretched open like a highly porous sponge. Toxins are drawn into these spaces through electrical attraction and bound. In fact, according to the Canadian Journal of Microbiology (2), bentonite clay can reportedly absorb pathogenic viruses, as well as herbicides and pesticides.
The bentonite is eventually eliminated from the body with the toxins bound to its multiple surfaces.
Bentonite clay and diarrhea
In his book “The Clay Cure” (3), Ran Knishinsky discusses how diarrhea can be remedied through the use of bentonite clay because of its ability to bind stools. Bentonite clay can take effect right away by binding to irritants in the gastrointestinal tract. It’s a good idea to mix the bentonite clay with 1 cup of applesauce, which not only makes the clay more palatable, but also adds pectin, which is another binding agent.
Bentonite has many uses
Bentonite is used in pharmaceuticals, medical and cosmetics markets. Bentonite is used as a filler in pharmaceutical drugs, and due to its absorption-adsorption capabilities, it allows paste formation. Bentonite is used in industrial protective creams, wet compresses, and anti-irritant lotions for eczema. In medicine, bentonite is used as an antidote in heavy metal poisoning. Personal care products such as mud packs, baby powder, sunburn paint, and face creams may contain bentonite.
How to take the bentonite
The best way to drink bentonite is on an empty stomach, or at least 1 hour before or after meals. Bentonite typically is available as a thick tasteless grey gel, but it also comes encapsulated, as well as in powder form.
It is generally advisable to start with 1 tablespoon of bentonite clay daily, mixed with a small amount of juice. Pay attention to the results for a week, then gradually increase the dosage to no more than 4 tablespoons daily, in divided doses.
In my opinion, the best price for high quality bentonite can be found here.
Drinking bentonite clay should be part of your regular colon cleansing regimen. You will benefit from greater assimilation because of the bentonite clay’s action as an intestinal cleanser and gastrointestinal regulator. As your body “cleans house”, it is in a better position to more efficiently assimilate the nutrients it needs, whether those nutrients come from your healing diet, vegetable juicing or cod liver oil and any other supplements.
Bentonite clay. I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s another one of those “natural remedies” that a lot of people use and have good results with. Although it’s a very useful tool that’s natural and healthy, not all bentonite clays are created equal, and a lot of people don’t really know what bentonite clay is or even how it works.
Today, I’d like to give you some information on bentonite clay so that you’ll understand what to look for when selecting a good quality clay as well as how it works. Plus, I’m also going to share 15 ways you can use it from head to toe, and hopefully, in the end, you’ll know all about it and be confident in your ability to use it to benefit you and your family’s health!
Understanding Bentonite Clay
What It Is & What It Does
Bentonite clay is a clay that is mined from the earth, and it’s formed after volcanic ash has weathered and aged in the presence of water. It has a strong negative electromagnetic charge, and when activated by water, it acts like a magnet in and on our bodies, pulling metals and toxins to it. It also has an effect on the body’s pH and provides the body with some vital minerals at the same time.
Varieties of Bentonite Clay
This clay comes in different varieties depending upon which elements are most concentrated in it, potassium, sodium, calcium, and aluminum, but the two most commercially available types are sodium bentonite and calcium bentonite. The best thing I’ve read on how these different types of clay come to be is from this Bulk Herb Store article that says,
Bentonite clay is a very unique substance, formed primarily of Montmorillonite, which is an extremely flat crystal flake, that carries a relatively strong negative ionic charge. The negative charge is compensated for by adsorbing a cation (either Sodium or Calcium) to the interior of the molecule, this is what makes it either Sodium Bentonite or Calcium Bentonite clay.
To put it another way, think of the Montmorillonite crystal flake resembling two pieces of bread, with a strong vacuum pulling the lunch meat in between them, whatever lands there (Sodium or Calcium) determines what kind of sandwich it will be. Now when you activate this clay sandwich it will magnetically grab the junk in your body (heavy metals, toxins, acid, etc.…) and trade them for the” lunch meat” taking the toxins out in your waste. The two different clays although very similar in their inert state (dry) have very different applications when activated (mixed with water).
So to me this says, if I use sodium bentonite clay, then it will exchange the sodium for the toxins it draws from my body… meaning it gives me it’s sodium and takes my toxins. Same goes for the calcium variety too. Pretty cool huh?
The main differences in these two varieties are that the sodium bentonite is best for detoxing purposes as it has a stronger negative charge which causes it to pull more toxins into it whereas the calcium bentonite clay is better at remineralizing the body with calcium and silica.
Quality of Bentonite Clay
When looking for a good quality bentonite clay, there are a couple of things to consider.
First, look into the company you’re buying your clay from. Research them and be sure that they’re active in where they source their clay from and test the quality of it. Remember that this clay acts as a magnet and you don’t want it absorbing toxins from nearby sources and then putting it on or in your body. Each of the companies mentioned here are very particular about their products, and I believe have great, healthy forms of bentonite clays available to use.
Next, ask how it’s mined. I never once thought about this until I read about it in the Bulk Herb Store article above, but since bentonite clay acts as a magnet for positively charged toxins (which the majority of toxins are) the equipment that the clay is mined with matters. You’re never supposed to use metal utensils with your bentonite clay because the metals can leach from the utensil and be pulled into the clay. This fills the clay up with those positively charged metals and means your clay will practically be useless by the time you use it since it’s already full of the metals from the utensil you used. The same goes with when it’s being mined. You want fully active clay… not clay that is already half full of metals from the mining process. Stainless steel mining equipment is supposedly a good option and doesn’t cause heavy metal leaching into the clay.
Bentonite Clay Concerns
I can think of a few concerns when it comes to using bentonite clay… at least internally that is.
First… it’s aluminum content. If you look at this bentonite clay profile by Mountain Rose Herbs, you’ll see that their bentonite clay contains 18.1% aluminum… the highest of all the minerals found in the clay. Now I’m sure this varies depending upon who you buy your clay from and where their clay is mined, but this can be really confusing for a lot of people since we all know that aluminum can be dangerous for our health. Thankfully, Redmond Clay addressed this concern of aluminum in bentonite clay stating,
Aluminum occurs naturally in our bodies, and in Redmond Clay. As with everything else we put in our bodies, the source and form of aluminum makes a big difference in how our bodies use it. The molecular structure of bentonite, especially the high negative charge of the aluminum, makes it impossible for the aluminum to leach into our systems. Instead, the aluminum leaves our bodies the old-fashioned way—along with the positively-charged toxins and impurities that the clay has bonded to. At a chemical level, much of clay’s healing benefit depends on aluminum.
Next, using sodium bentonite internally. Since sodium bentonite is the better detoxifying bentonite, your first thought may be to use it if you want to take it internally for a nice detox. Well, that’s true, but remember how it exchanges it’s sodium for your toxins? Well that could cause your body to get too much sodium and that in itself can cause a good amount of problems. Mountain Rose Herbs sells sodium bentonite and they specify that their clay is for external use only, but Bulk Herb Store and Redmond Clay are a combination of both sodium and calcium bentonite clays so that you can take them internally and get the best of both worlds… just as long as you take the right amount and don’t overdo it.
Lastly, constipation. Yes, bentonite clay can be used internally to detox the body as well as help with pH and remineralization, but if you use too much of it, it’s definitely going to cause constipation issues. Think about it. It’s clay. If you mix bentonite clay with a little water, you’re going to get a seriously thick paste. As you continue to add water to it, the clay continues to thin out and disperse in the water. Same goes in your body. If you take bentonite clay in water or in capsules, you have to continue to drink water throughout the day to help the clay stay thin and not “settle” or “compact” in your colon. No. Fun. Man.
15 Bentonite Clay Uses from Head to Toe
Below is a roundup of 15 different ways you can use bentonite clay to help your families’ health… from head to toe.
Detox Your Hair – Wellness Mama
Homemade Clay Toothpaste – Keeper of the Home
Bentonite Clay Detox Bath – Homegrown & Healthy
Bentonite Clay Face Mask – Health Extremist
Homemade Calamine Lotion – Nourishing Joy
DIY Mascara – Body Unburdened
Homemade Deodorant – Oh Lardy
Diaper Rash Remedy – Mommypotamus
Bentonite Fruit & Veggie Wash – About Clay
Bentonite Clay Poultice for Rashes, Burns, & Bites – Everyday Roots
Bentonite Clay for Eczema – Live strong on YouTube
Bentonite Clay in Soap – Yahoo
Skin Bleaching (Tattoo Lightener) – EHow
Heavy Metal Detox – Like A Mustard Seed
Shaving Soap – Blue Aspen Originals
Where You Can Find Bentonite Clay
Mountain Rose Herbs (sodium bentonite, for the strongest detoxing properties)
Redmond Clay (sodium/calcium bentonite mix)
Frontier and Living Clay (both calcium bentonite)
The term Bentonite was first used for a clay found in about 1890 in upper cretaceous tuff near Fort Benton, Montana. The main constituent, which is the determinant factor in the clay’s properties, is the clay mineral montmorillonite. This in turn, derives its name from a deposit at MontmThe term Bentonite was first used for a clay found in about 1890 in upper cretaceous tuff near Fort Benton, Wyoming. The main constituent, which is the determinant factor in the clay’s properties, is the clay mineral montmorillonite. This in turn, derives its name from a deposit at Montmorillonite, in Southern France.
Bentonite is a clay generated frequently from the alteration of volcanic ash, consisting predominantly of smectite minerals, usually montmorillonite. Other smectite group minerals include hectorite, saponite, beidelite and nontronite. Smectites are clay minerals, i.e., they consist of individual crystallites the majority of which are <2µm in largest dimension. Smectite crystallites themselves are three-layer clay minerals. They consist of two tetrahedral layers and one octahedral layer. In montmorillonite tetrahedral layers consisting of [SiO4] – tetrahedrons enclose the [M (O5, OH)]-octahedron layer (M = and mainly Al, Mg, but Fe is also often found). The silicate layers have a slight negative charge that is compensated by exchangeable ions in the intercrystallite region. The charge is so weak that the cations (in natural form, predominantly Ca2+, Mg2+ or Na+ ions) can be adsorbed in this region with their hydrate shell. The extent of hydration produces intercrystallite swelling. Depending on the nature of their genesis, bentonites contain a variety of accessory minerals in addition to montmorillonite. These minerals may include quartz, feldspar, calcite and gypsum. The presence of these minerals can impact the industrial value of a deposit, reducing or increasing its value depending on the application. Bentonite presents strong colloidal properties and its volume increases several times when coming into contact with water, creating a gelatinous and viscous fluid. The special properties of bentonite (hydration, swelling, water absorption, viscosity, thixotropic) make it a valuable material for a wide range of uses and applications.
Bentonite deposits are normally exploited by quarrying. Extracted bentonite is distinctly solid, even with a moisture content of approximately 30%. The material is initially crushed and, if necessary, activated with the addition of soda ash (Na2CO3). Bentonite is subsequently dried (air and/or forced drying) to reach a moisture content of approximately 15%. According to the final application, bentonite is either sieved (granular form) or milled (into powder and super fine powder form). For special applications, bentonite is purified by removing the associated gangue minerals, or treated with acids to produce acid-activated bentonite (bleaching earths), or treated with organics to produce organoclays.
Foundry: Bentonite is used as a bonding material in the preparation of molding sand for the production of iron, steel and non-ferrous casting. The unique properties of bentonite yield green sand moulds with good flowability, compact ability and thermal stability for the production of high quality castings.
Cat Litter: Bentonite is used for cat litter, due to its advantage of absorbing refuse by forming clumps (which can be easily removed) leaving the remaining product intact for further use.
Pelletizing: Bentonite is used as a binding agent in the production of iron ore pellets. Through this process, iron ore fines are converted into spherical pellets, suitable as feed material in blast furnaces for pig iron production, or in the production of direct reduction iron (DRI).
Construction and Civil Engineering: Bentonite in civil engineering applications is used traditionally as a thixotropic, support and lubricant agent in diaphragm walls and foundations, in tunneling, in horizontal directional drilling and pipe jacking. Bentonite, due to its viscosity and plasticity, also is used in Portland cement and mortars.
Environmental Markets: Bentonite’s adsorption/absorption properties are very useful for wastewater purification. Common environmental directives recommend low permeability soils, which naturally should contain bentonite, as a sealing material in the construction and rehabilitation of landfills to ensure the protection of groundwater from the pollutants. Bentonite is the active protective layer of geosynthetic clay liners.
Drilling: Another conventional use of bentonite is as a mud constituent for oil and water well drilling. Its roles are mainly to seal the borehole walls, to remove drill cuttings and to lubricate the cutting head.
Oils/Food Markets: Bentonite is utilized in the removal of impurities in oils where its adsorptive properties are crucial in the processing of edible oils and fats (Soya/palm/canola oil). In drinks such as beer, wine and mineral water, and in products like sugar or honey, bentonite is used as a clarification agent.
Agriculture: Bentonite is used as an animal feed supplement, as a pelletizing aid in the production of animal feed pellets, as well as a flow ability aid for unconsolidated feed ingredients such as soy meal. It also is used as an ion exchanger for improvement and conditioning of the soil. When thermally treated, it can be used as a porous ceramic carrier for various herbicides and pesticides.
Pharmaceuticals: Cosmetics and Medical Markets: Bentonite is used as filler in pharmaceuticals, and due to its absorption/adsorption functions, it allows paste formation. Such applications include industrial protective creams, calamine lotion, wet compresses, and ant irritants for eczema. In medicine, bentonite is used as an antidote in heavy metal poisoning. Personal care products such as mud packs, sunburn paint, baby and face powders, and face creams may all contain bentonite.
Detergents: Laundry detergents and liquid hand cleansers/soaps rely on the inclusion of bentonite, in order to remove the impurities in solvents and to soften the fabrics.
Paints: Dyes and Polishes: Due to its thixotropic properties, bentonite and organoclays function as a thickening and/or suspension agent in varnishes, and in water and solvent paints. Its adsorption properties are appreciated for the finishing of indigo dying cloth, and in dyes (lacquers for paints & wallpapers).
Paper: Bentonite is crucial to paper making, where it is used in pitch control, i.e., absorption of wood resins that tend to obstruct the machines and to improve the efficiency of conversion of pulp into paper as well as to improve the quality of the paper. Bentonite also offers useful de-inking properties for paper recycling. In addition, acid-activated bentonite is used as the active component in the manufacture of carbonless copy paper.
Catalyst: Chemically-modified clay catalysts find application in a diverse range of duties where acid catalysis is a key mechanism. Most particularly, they are employed in the alkylation processes to produce fuel additives. orillon, in Southern France.
There are not many substances better able to promote internal cleansing than bentonite clay. However, there are some caveats.
Lately in my colon-hydrotherapy business I have seen the result of using bentonite improperly, leading to dryness and blockage in the colon, in direct opposition to the expected results. This comes from the American idea that More is Better.
Clay therapies have been used for known hundreds and perhaps thousands of years by indigenous peoples for internal and external cleansing and healing.
(There are three basic chemical varieties) are some of the best clays to use for healing purposes and have been mined and treated for these purposes in the west for many decades. At this time, I will only address using bentonite internally.
Unfired clay is a vital reactive substance and has been called “living earth” because of its electromagnetic charge. The clay results from the long weathering and aging of volcanic ash and retains the electromagnetic charge formed when the ash was created from thermal-dynamic heat and volcanic action. It forms as little platelets which have a positive charge along their edges and a stronger negative charge across their large flat surfaces. It is this stronger negative charge that draws so many forms of toxic material to it, grabbing and holding it until it passes from the body through the digestive tract.
Clay is extremely absorbent so it draws toxic substances and swells to many times its size in water. Various toxins drawn by clay are pathogenic viruses, herbicides, heavy metals, pesticides, radioactive substances, and parasites. Needless to say, this is a good thing. So, if a little clay is good for these things, more must be better, right? Take care, my cleansing friends.
I first learned about clay as a healing tool in the early seventies from (the French naturopath) Michel Abehsera’s book, “Our Earth, Our Cure”, and it was from this book that I first understood some of how clay works. It works as a magnet, not as a Mack truck. What I mean is that it works delicately and more is definitely NOT better. One friend who came to see me had been following the directives of an otherwise great cleanse, but which recommended that one build up to 4 tablespoons a day. Michel Abehsera recommended 1 teaspoon in a glass of water, and then only drinking the clay water until one had built up a tolerance for it, and then slowly adding the clay itself.
Here is what happens, or doesn’t happen. Clay is earth. It’s heavy. It’s dense. If it bumps up against some impaction on the colon wall, it won’t necessarily push it through. Part of it will adhere, adding to the compaction. A small amount will not be a problem, but four tablespoons magnified to? This can create new or added constipation which will be exacerbated for anyone who isn’t drinking a LOT of water during a period of clay cleansing. Some of the commercial uses of bentonite are in cement, adhesives, kitty litter, pond sealers, preserving mummies (true story), etc. Get it? It dries and binds.
Think of clay as a catalyst rather than an active agent. There is nothing particularly unusual in its metallic components. Rather than thinking only of clay’s absorptive qualities, think of its magnetic qualities. You don’t need a lot of it to do the job especially if you have prepared it properly.
CLAY NEEDS TO BE SOAKED IN WATER – remember, 1 teaspoon in a full glass – for a minimum of thirty minutes, but several hours is preferable. The water activates its electromagnetic charge. Be sure to remove the metallic spoon used to stir from the water. Preparing the glassful before bed is a good habit. The longer the clay sits in the water the more it imparts its electromagnetic charge into the water, making the water into medicine. The whole glass gets charged, so you don’t need very much of the physicality of the clay itself to draw toxins. This is true not only regarding the detoxifying action of clay but even more so for its catalytic actions. Catalytic action simply refers to those actions in the body that are stimulated by the presence of clay rather than by its direct contact, such as the ability to restore organ function, stimulate red blood cells, regulate radioactivity in the body. These catalytic functions I have no direct understanding of, but refer to information cleaned from reading in order to give my readers a little deeper sense of the range of the internal healing influences of clay.
It’s recommended to avoid combining clay therapy with either pharmaceutical or homeopathic medicines. The action of clay is inhibited by medicines. Wait until you are not on any medicine regime before trying clay cleansing.
Clay water should be ingested on an empty stomach, if possible, either early in the morning or before bed. If taken a little before meals it can decrease stomach pains that occur after eating. And even though you are taking it in solution, still be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day. For people with a tendency toward constipation, it is better to take your clay in the evening. A daily regime can be as long as three weeks; then take a break of at least a week. Clay cleansing is totally compatible with nutritive cleansing, but if combining it with complete fasting -water or juices only – add psyllium seed for fiber. *
One last thing. Clay is best stored in darkness, however, exposing it to sun’s energy (and air and rain) before using it will make it more active.
What is it?
Chromium is a mineral that humans require in trace amounts, although its mechanisms of action in the body and the amounts needed for optimal health are not well defined. It is found primarily in two forms: 1) trivalent (chromium 3+), which is biologically active and found in food, and 2) hexavalent (chromium 6+), a toxic form that results from industrial pollution. This fact sheet focuses exclusively on trivalent (3+) chromium.
Chromium is known to enhance the action of insulin, a hormone critical to the metabolism and storage of carbohydrate, fat, and protein in the body. In 1957, a compound in brewers’ yeast was found to prevent an age-related decline in the ability of rats to maintain normal levels of sugar (glucose) in their blood. Chromium was identified as the active ingredient in this so-called “glucose tolerance factor” in 1959.
Chromium also appears to be directly involved in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism, but more research is needed to determine the full range of its roles in the body. The challenges to meeting this goal include:
Defining the types of individuals who respond to chromium supplementation;
Evaluating the chromium content of foods and its bioavailability;
Determining if a clinically relevant chromium-deficiency state exists in humans due to inadequate dietary intakes; and
Developing valid and reliable measures of chromium status.
Table of Contents
Chromium: What is it?
What foods provide chromium?
What are recommended intakes of chromium?
What affects chromium levels in the body?
When can a chromium deficiency occur?
Who may need extra chromium?
What are some current issues and controversies about chromium?
What are the health risks of too much chromium?
Chromium and medication interactions
Supplemental sources of chromium
Chromium and Healthful Diets
What foods provide chromium?
Chromium is widely distributed in the food supply, but most foods provide only small amounts (less than 2 micrograms [mcg] per serving). Meat and whole-grain products, as well as some fruits, vegetables, and spices are relatively good sources. In contrast, foods high in simple sugars (like sucrose and fructose) are low in chromium.
Dietary intakes of chromium cannot be reliably determined because the content of the mineral in foods is substantially affected by agricultural and manufacturing processes and perhaps by contamination with chromium when the foods are analyzed. Therefore, Table 1, and food-composition databases generally, provide approximate values of chromium in foods that should only serve as a guide.
Table 1: Selected food sources of chromium
Food Chromium (mcg)
Broccoli, ½ cup 11
Grape juice, 1 cup 8
English muffin, whole wheat, 1 4
Potatoes, mashed, 1 cup 3
Garlic, dried, 1 teaspoon 3
Basil, dried, 1 tablespoon 2
Beef cubes, 3 ounces 2
Orange juice, 1 cup 2
Turkey breast, 3 ounces 2
Whole wheat bread, 2 slices 2
Red wine, 5 ounces 1–13
Apple, unpeeled, 1 medium 1
Banana, 1 medium 1
Green beans, ½ cup 1
What are recommended intakes of chromium?
Recommended chromium intakes are provided in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences. Dietary Reference Intakes is the general term for a set of reference values to plan and assess the nutrient intakes of healthy people. These values include the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) and the Adequate Intake (AI). The RDA is the average daily intake that meets a nutrient requirement of nearly all (97 to 98%) healthy individuals. An AI is established when there is insufficient research to establish an RDA; it is generally set at a level that healthy people typically consume.
In 1989, the National Academy of Sciences established an “estimated safe and adequate daily dietary intake” range for chromium. For adults and adolescents that range was 50 to 200 mcg. In 2001, DRIs for chromium were established. The research base was insufficient to establish RDAs, so AIs were developed based on average intakes of chromium from food as found in several studies. Chromium AIs are provided in Table 2.
Table 2: Adequate Intakes (AIs) for chromium
Age Infants and children
0 to 6 months 0.2
7 to 12 months 5.5
1 to 3 years 11
4 to 8 years 15
9 to 13 years 25 21
14 to 18 years 35 24 29 44
19 to 50 years 35 25 30 45
50 years 30 20
mcg = micrograms
Adult women in the United States consume about 23 to 29 mcg of chromium per day from food, which meets their AIs unless they’re pregnant or lactating. In contrast, adult men average 39 to 54 mcg per day, which exceeds their AIs.
The average amount of chromium in the breast milk of healthy, well-nourished mothers is 0.24 mcg per quart, so infants exclusively fed breast milk obtain about 0.2 mcg (based on an estimated consumption of 0.82 quarts per day). Infant formula provides about 0.5 mcg of chromium per quart. No studies have compared how well infants absorb and utilize chromium from human milk and formula.
What affects chromium levels in the body?
Absorption of chromium from the intestinal tract is low, ranging from less than 0.4% to 2.5% of the amount consumed, and the remainder is excreted in the feces. Enhancing the mineral’s absorption are vitamin C (found in fruits and vegetables and their juices) and the B vitamin niacin (found in meats, poultry, fish, and grain products). Absorbed chromium is stored in the liver, spleen, soft tissue, and bone.
The body’s chromium content may be reduced under several conditions. Diets high in simple sugars (comprising more than 35% of calories) can increase chromium excretion in the urine. Infection, acute exercise, pregnancy and lactation, and stressful states (such as physical trauma) increase chromium losses and can lead to deficiency, especially if chromium intakes are already low.
When can a chromium deficiency occur?
In the 1960s, chromium was found to correct glucose intolerance and insulin resistance in deficient animals, two indicators that the body is failing to properly control blood-sugar levels and which are precursors of type 2 diabetes. However, reports of actual chromium deficiency in humans are rare. Three hospitalized patients who were fed intravenously showed signs of diabetes (including weight loss, neuropathy, and impaired glucose tolerance) until chromium was added to their feeding solution. The chromium, added at doses of 150 to 250 mcg/day for up to two weeks, corrected their diabetes symptoms. Chromium is now routinely added to intravenous solutions.
Who may need extra chromium?
There are reports of significant age-related decreases in the chromium concentrations of hair, sweat and blood, which might suggest that older people are more vulnerable to chromium depletion than younger adults. One cannot be sure, however, as chromium status is difficult to determine. That’s because blood, urine, and hair levels do not necessarily reflect body stores. Furthermore, no chromium-specific enzyme or other biochemical marker has been found to reliably assess a person’s chromium status.
There is considerable interest in the possibility that supplemental chromium may help to treat impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes, but the research to date is inconclusive. No large, randomized, controlled clinical trials testing this hypothesis have been reported in the United States. Nevertheless, this is an active area of research.
What are some current issues and controversies about chromium?
Chromium has long been of interest for its possible connection to various health conditions. Among the most active areas of chromium research are its use in supplement form to treat diabetes, lower blood lipid levels, promote weight loss, and improve body composition.
Type 2 diabetes and glucose intolerance
In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas is usually producing enough insulin but, for unknown reasons, the body cannot use the insulin effectively. The disease typically occurs, in part, because the cells comprising muscle and other tissues become resistant to insulin’s action, especially among the obese. Insulin permits the entry of glucose into most cells, where this sugar is used for energy, stored in the liver and muscles (as glycogen), and converted to fat when present in excess. Insulin resistance leads to higher-than-normal levels of glucose in the blood (hyperglycemia).
Chromium deficiency impairs the body’s ability to use glucose to meet its energy needs and raises insulin requirements. It has therefore been suggested that chromium supplements might help to control type 2 diabetes or the glucose and insulin responses in persons at high risk of developing the disease. A review of randomized controlled clinical trials evaluated this hypothesis. This meta-analysis assessed the effects of chromium supplements on three markers of diabetes in the blood: glucose, insulin, and glycated hemoglobin (which provides a measure of long-term glucose levels; also known as hemoglobin A1C). It summarized data from 15 trials on 618 participants, of which 425 were in good health or had impaired glucose tolerance and 193 had type 2 diabetes. Chromium supplementation had no effect on glucose or insulin concentrations in subjects without diabetes nor did it reduce these levels in subjects with diabetes, except in one study. However, that study, conducted in China (in which 155 subjects with diabetes were given either 200 or 1,000 mcg/day of chromium or a placebo) might simply show the benefits of supplementation in a chromium-deficient population.
Overall, the value of chromium supplements for diabetes is inconclusive and controversial. Randomized controlled clinical trials in well-defined, at-risk populations where dietary intakes are known are necessary to determine the effects of chromium on markers of diabetes. The American Diabetes Association states that there is insufficient evidence to support the routine use of chromium to improve glycemic control in people with diabetes. It further notes that there is no clear scientific evidence that vitamin and mineral supplementation benefits people with diabetes who do not have underlying nutritional deficiencies.
The effects of chromium supplementation on blood lipid levels in humans are also inconclusive. In some studies, 150 to 1,000 mcg/day has decreased total and low-density-lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increased concentrations of apolipoprotein A (a component of high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol known as HDL or “good” cholesterol) in subjects with atherosclerosis or elevated cholesterol or among those taking a beta-blocker drug. These findings are consistent with the results of earlier studies.
However, chromium supplements have shown no favorable effects on blood lipids in other studies. The mixed research findings may be due to difficulties in determining the chromium status of subjects at the start of the trials and the researchers’ failure to control for dietary factors that influence blood lipid levels.
Body weight and composition
Chromium supplements are sometimes claimed to reduce body fat and increase lean (muscle) mass. Yet a recent review of 24 studies that examined the effects of 200 to 1,000 mcg/day of chromium (in the form of chromium picolinate) on body mass or composition found no significant benefits. Another recent review of randomized, controlled clinical trials did find supplements of chromium picolinate to help with weight loss when compared with placebos, but the differences were small and of debatable clinical relevance. In several studies, chromium’s effects on body weight and composition may be called into question because the researchers failed to adequately control for the participants’ food intakes. Furthermore, most studies included only a small number of subjects and were of short duration.
What are the health risks of too much chromium?
Few serious adverse effects have been linked to high intakes of chromium, so the Institute of Medicine has not established a Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for this mineral. A UL is the maximum daily intake of a nutrient that is unlikely to cause adverse health effects. It is one of the values (together with the RDA and AI) that comprise the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for each nutrient.
Chromium and medication interactions
Certain medications may interact with chromium, especially when taken on a regular basis (see Table 3). Before taking dietary supplements, check with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider, especially if you take prescription or over-the-counter medications.
Table 3: Interactions between chromium and medications
Medications Nature of interaction
H2 blockers (such as cimetidine, famotidine, nizatidine, and rantidine)
Proton-pump inhibitors (such as omeprazole, lansoprazole, rabeprazole, pantoprazole, and esomeprazole) These medications alter stomach acidity and may impair chromium absorption or enhance excretion
Beta-blockers (such as atenolol or propanolol)
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS)
Prostaglandin inhibitors (such as ibuprofen, indomethacin, naproxen, piroxicam, and aspirin) These medications may have their effects enhanced if taken together with chromium or they may increase chromium absorption
Supplemental sources of chromium
Chromium is a widely used supplement. Estimated sales to consumers were $85 million in 2002, representing 5.6% of the total mineral-supplement market. Chromium is sold as a single-ingredient supplement as well as in combination formulas, particularly those marketed for weight loss and performance enhancement. Supplement doses typically range from 50 to 200 mcg.
The safety and efficacy of chromium supplements need more investigation. Please consult with a doctor or other trained healthcare professional before taking any dietary supplements.
Chromium supplements are available as chromium chloride, chromium nicotinate, chromium picolinate, high-chromium yeast, and chromium citrate. Chromium chloride in particular appears to have poor bioavailability. However, given the limited data on chromium absorption in humans, it is not clear which forms are best to take.
Chromium and Healthful Diets
The federal government’s 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans notes that “Nutritional needs should be met primarily from foods. … Foods in nutrient-dense forms contain essential vitamins and minerals and also dietary fiber and other naturally occurring substances that may have positive health effects. In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may be useful in providing one or more nutrients that otherwise may be consumed in less-than-recommended amounts.”
For more information about building a healthy diet, refer to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s My Plate.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans describes a healthy eating pattern as one that:
Includes a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, and oils.
Whole grain products and certain fruits and vegetables like broccoli, potatoes, grape juice, and oranges are sources of chromium. Ready-to-eat bran cereals can also be a relatively good source of chromium.
Includes a variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, and soy products.
Lean beef, oysters, eggs, and turkey are sources of chromium.
Limits saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium.
Stays within your daily calorie needs.
Cobalt is a chemical element with symbol Co and atomic number 27. Like nickel, cobalt is found in the Earth’s crust only in chemically combined form, save for small deposits found in alloys of natural meteoric iron. The free element, produced by reductive smelting, is a hard, lustrous, silver-gray metal.
Cobalt-based blue pigments (cobalt blue) have been used since ancient times for jewelry and paints, and to impart a distinctive blue tint to glass, but the color was later thought by alchemists to be due to the known metal bismuth. Miners had long used the name kobold ore (German for goblin ore) for some of the blue-pigment producing minerals; they were so named because they were poor in known metals, and gave poisonous arsenic-containing fumes upon smelting. In 1735, such ores were found to be reducible to a new metal (the first discovered since ancient times), and this was ultimately named for the kobold.
Today, some cobalt is produced specifically from various metallic-lustered ores, for example cobaltite (CoAsS), but the main source of the element is as a by-product of copper and nickel mining. The copper belt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic and Zambia yields most of the cobalt mined worldwide.
Cobalt is primarily used in the preparation of magnetic, wear-resistant and high-strength alloys. The compounds, cobalt silicate and cobalt (II) aluminate (CoAl2O4, cobalt blue) give a distinctive deep blue color to glass, ceramics, inks, paints and varnishes. Cobalt occurs naturally as only one stable isotope, cobalt-59. Cobalt-60 is a commercially important radioisotope, used as a radioactive tracer and for the production of high energy gamma rays.
Cobalt is the active center of coenzymes called cobalamins, the most common example of which is vitamin B12. As such, it is an essential trace dietary mineral for all animals. Cobalt in inorganic form is also micronutrient for bacteria, algae and fungi.
Cobalt is a ferromagnetic metal with a specific gravity of 8.9. The Curie temperature is 1,115 °C (2,039 °F) and the magnetic moment is 1.6–1.7 Bohr magnetons per atom. Cobalt has a relative permeability two-thirds that of iron. Metallic cobalt occurs as two crystallographic structures: hcp and fcc. The ideal transition temperature between the hcp and fcc structures is 450 °C (842 °F), but in practice, the energy difference is so small that random intergrowth of the two is common.
Cobalt is a weakly reducing metal that in pure metallic form, is protected from oxidation by a passivating oxide film. It is attacked by halogens and sulfur. Heating in oxygen produces Co3O4 which loses oxygen at 900 °C (1,650 °F) to give the monoxide CoO. The metal reacts with fluorine (F2) at 520 K to give CoF3; with chlorine (Cl2), bromine (Br2) and iodine (I2), producing equivalent binary halides. It does not react with hydrogen gas (H2) or nitrogen gas (N2) even when heated, but it does react with boron, carbon, phosphorus, arsenic and sulfur. At ordinary temperatures, it reacts slowly with mineral acids, and very slowly with moist, but not with dry, air.
Gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate, with the chemical formula CaSO4·2H2O. It is widely mined and is used as a fertilizer, and as the main constituent in many forms of plaster, blackboard chalk and wallboard. A massive fine-grained white or lightly tinted variety of gypsum, called alabaster, has been used for sculpture by many cultures including Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Ancient Rome, Byzantine empire and the Nottingham alabasters of medieval England. It is the definition of a hardness of 2 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. It forms as an evaporite mineral and as a hydration product of anhydrite.
Etymology and history
The word gypsum is derived from the Greek word γύψος (gypsos), “chalk” or “plaster”. Because the quarries of the Montmartre district of Paris have long furnished burnt gypsum (calcined gypsum) used for various purposes, this dehydrated gypsum became known as plaster of Paris. Upon addition of water, after a few tens of minutes plaster of Paris becomes regular gypsum (dihydrate) again, causing the material to harden or “set” in ways that are useful for casting and construction.
Gypsum was known in Old English as spærstān, “spear stone”, referring to its crystalline projections. (Thus, the word spar in mineralogy is by way of comparison to gypsum, referring to any non-ore mineral or crystal that forms in spearlike projections). Gypsum may act as a source of sulfur for plant growth, which was discovered by J. M. Mayer, and in the early 19th century, it was regarded as an almost miraculous fertilizer. American farmers were so anxious to acquire it that a lively smuggling trade with Nova Scotia evolved, resulting in the so-called “Plaster War” of 1820. In the 19th century, it was also known as lime sulphate or sulphate of lime.
Gypsum is moderately water-soluble (~2.0–2.5 g/l at 25 °C) and, in contrast to most other salts, it exhibits retrograde solubility, becoming less soluble at higher temperatures. When gypsum is heated in air it loses water and converts first to calcium sulfate hemihydrate, (bassanite, often simply called “plaster”) and, if heated further, to anhydrous calcium sulfate (anhydrite). As for anhydrite, its solubility in saline solutions and in brines is also strongly dependent on NaCl concentration.
Gypsum crystals are found to contain anion water and hydrogen bonding.
Main article: Selenite (mineral)
Gypsum occurs in nature as flattened and often twinned crystals, and transparent, cleavable masses called selenite. Selenite contains no significant selenium; rather, both substances were named for the ancient Greek word for the Moon.
Selenite may also occur in a silky, fibrous form, in which case it is commonly called “satin spar”. Finally, it may also be granular or quite compact. In hand-sized samples, it can be anywhere from transparent to opaque. A very fine-grained white or lightly tinted variety of gypsum, called alabaster, is prized for ornamental work of various sorts. In arid areas, gypsum can occur in a flower-like form, typically opaque, with embedded sand grains called desert rose. It also forms some of the largest crystals found in nature, up to 12 m (39 ft) long, in the form of selenite.
Gypsum is a common mineral, with thick and extensive evaporite beds in association with sedimentary rocks. Deposits are known to occur in strata from as far back as the Archaean eon. Gypsum is deposited from lake and sea water, as well as in hot springs, from volcanic vapors, and sulfate solutions in veins. Hydrothermal anhydrite in veins is commonly hydrated to gypsum by groundwater in near-surface exposures. It is often associated with the mineral’s halite and sulfur. Pure gypsum is white, but other substances found as impurities may give a wide range of colors to local deposits.
Because gypsum dissolves over time in water, gypsum is rarely found in the form of sand. However, the unique conditions of the White Sands National Monument in the US state of New Mexico have created a 710 km2 (270 sq mi) expanse of white gypsum sand, enough to supply the construction industry with drywall for 1,000 years. Commercial exploitation of the area, strongly opposed by area residents, was permanently prevented in 1933 when president Herbert Hoover declared the gypsum dunes a protected national monument.
Gypsum is also formed as a by-product of sulfide oxidation, amongst others by pyrite oxidation, when the sulfuric acid generated reacts with calcium carbonate. Its presence indicates oxidizing conditions. Under reducing conditions, the sulfates it contains can be reduced back to sulfide by sulfate reducing bacteria. Electric power stations burning coal with flue gas desulfurization produce large quantities of gypsum as a byproduct from the scrubbers.
Orbital pictures from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have indicated the existence of gypsum dunes in the northern polar region of Mars, which were later confirmed at ground level by the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) Opportunity.
Commercial quantities of gypsum are found in the cities of Araripina and Grajaú in Brazil; in Pakistan, Jamaica, Iran (world’s third largest producer), Thailand, Spain (the main producer in Europe), Germany, Italy, England, Ireland, Canada and the United States. Large open pit quarries are located in many places including Plaster City, California, United States, and East Kutai, Kalimantan, Indonesia. Several small mines also exist in places such as Kalannie in Western Australia, where gypsum is sold to private buyers for changing the pH levels of soil for agricultural purposes.
Crystals of gypsum up to 11 m (36 ft) long have been found in the caves of the Naica Mine of Chihuahua, Mexico. The crystals thrived in the cave’s extremely rare and stable natural environment. Temperatures stayed at 58 °C (136 °F), and the cave was filled with mineral-rich water that drove the crystals’ growth. The largest of those crystals weighs 55 tons and is around 500,000 years old.
Synthetic gypsum is recovered via flue-gas desulfurization at some coal-fired power plants. It can be used interchangeably with natural gypsum in some applications.
Gypsum also precipitates onto brackish water membranes, a phenomenon known as mineral salt scaling, such as during brackish water desalination of water with high concentrations of calcium and sulfate. Scaling decreases membrane life and productivity. This is one of the main obstacles in brackish water membrane desalination processes, such as reverse osmosis or nanofiltration. Other forms of scaling, such as calcite scaling, depending on the water source, can also be important considerations in distillation, as well as in heat exchangers, where either the salt solubility or concentration can change rapidly.
A new study has suggested that the formation of gypsum starts as tiny crystals of a mineral called bassanite (CaSO4·0.5H2O). This process occurs via a three-stage pathway: (1) homogeneous nucleation of nanocrystalline bassanite; (2) self-assembly of bassanite into aggregates, and (3) transformation of bassanite into gypsum.
People can be exposed to gypsum in the workplace by breathing it in, skin contact, and eye contact.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set the legal limit (permissible exposure limit) for gypsum exposure in the workplace as TWA 15 mg/m3 for total exposure and TWA 5 mg/m3 for respiratory exposure over an 8-hour workday. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has set a recommended exposure limit (REL) of TWA 10 mg/m3 for total exposure and TWA 5 mg/m3 for respiratory exposure over an 8-hour workday.
Gypsum is used in a wide variety of applications:
Gypsum board is primarily used as a finish for walls and ceilings, and is known in construction as drywall, wallboard, sheetrock or plasterboard.
Gypsum blocks are used like concrete blocks in building construction.
Gypsum mortar is an ancient mortar used in building construction.
Plaster ingredients are used in surgical splints, casting moulds and modeling.
Fertilizer and soil conditioner: In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Nova Scotia gypsum, often referred to as plaster, was a highly sought fertilizer for wheat fields in the United States. It is also used in ameliorating high-sodium soils.
A binder in fast-dry tennis court clay
As alabaster, a material for sculpture, it was used especially in the ancient world before steel was developed, when its relative softness made it much easier to carve.
A wood substitute in the ancient world: For example, when wood became scarce due to deforestation on Bronze Age Crete, gypsum was employed in building construction at locations where wood was previously used.
A tofu (soy bean curd) coagulant, making it ultimately a major source of dietary calcium, especially in Asian cultures which traditionally use few dairy products
Adding hardness to water used for brewing
Used in baking as a dough conditioner, reducing stickiness, and as a baked-goods source of dietary calcium. The primary component of mineral yeast food.
A component of Portland cement used to prevent flash setting of concrete
Soil/water potential monitoring (soil moisture)
A common ingredient in making mead
In the medieval period, scribes and illuminators mixed it with lead carbonate (powdered white lead) to make gesso, which was applied to illuminated letters and gilded with gold in illuminated manuscripts.
In foot creams, shampoos and many other hair products
A medicinal agent in traditional Chinese medicine called shi gao
Impression plasters in dentistry
Used in mushroom cultivation to stop grains from clumping together
Test have shown that gypsum can be used to remove pollutants such as lead or arsenic from contaminated waters.
What is Gypsum?
Gypsum is an evaporite mineral most commonly found in layered sedimentary deposits in association with halite, anhydrite, sulfur, calcite and dolomite. Gypsum (CaSO4.2H2O) is very similar to Anhydrite (CaSO4). The chemical difference is that gypsum contains two waters and anhydrite is without water. Gypsum is the most common sulfate mineral.
Physical Properties of Gypsum
Chemical Classification sulfate
Color clear, colorless, white, gray, yellow, red, brown
Luster vitreous, silky, sugary
Diaphaneity transparent to translucent
Mohs Hardness 2
Specific Gravity 2.3
Diagnostic Properties cleavage, specific gravity, low hardness
Chemical Composition hydrous calcium sulfate, CaSO4.2H2O
Crystal System monoclinic
Uses Use to manufacture dry wall, plaster, joint compound. An agricultural soil treatment.
Uses of Gypsum?
Gypsum uses include: manufacture of wallboard, cement, plaster of Paris, soil conditioning, a hardening retarder in Portland cement. Varieties of gypsum known as “satin spar” and “alabaster” are used for a variety of ornamental purposes, however their low hardness limits their durability.
What is Gypsum?
Chemically known as “calcium sulfate dihydrate,” gypsum contains calcium, sulfur bound to oxygen, and water. Gypsum is an abundant mineral and takes forms including alabaster—a material used in decoration and construction as far back as ancient Egypt. The White Sands National Monument in New Mexico is the world’s largest gypsum dunefield.
This non-toxic mineral can be helpful to humans, animals, plant life, and the environment. While the majority of gypsum produced in North America is used to manufacture gypsum board or building plasters, gypsum is used in many other ways.
Two Types of Gypsum: Natural and FGD
Natural gypsum, occurs in sedimentary rock formations, and is found in over 85 countries. The United States, Canada and Mexico have some of the largest reserves of high-quality gypsum. Gypsum is mined in 17 states. Iowa, Texas, Utah, and New Mexico are particularly important producers.
One hundred pounds of gypsum rock contains approximately 21 pounds (or 10 quarts) of chemically combined water. Gypsum rock is mined or quarried, crushed and ground into a fine powder. In a process called calcining, the powder is heating to approximately 350 degrees F, driving off three fourths of the chemically combined water. The calcined gypsum, or hemihydrate, becomes the base for gypsum plaster, gypsum board and other gypsum products.
Flue-Gas Desulfurization (FGD) gypsum has been used to manufacture gypsum board for more than 30 years. A by-product of desulfurization of flue gas from the stacks of fossil-fueled power plants, emissions captured from smoke stacks can be purified into a hard substance and manufactured into gypsum. Today, almost half of all gypsum used in the United States is FGD gypsum. Natural gypsum and FGD gypsum have the same chemical composition, they are calcium sulfate dihydrate (CaSO4·2H2O). FGD gypsum production and sales encourages power producers to capture “waste” for reuse, rather than merely storing it.
The production of this extremely pure type of gypsum reduces environmental pollution. In 2010, the U.S. gypsum industry diverted nearly 8 million short tons of FGD gypsum to board manufacturing that otherwise would have been sent to local landfills.
The increased use of FGD gypsum has also encouraged new plants to be sited much closer to major population centers. This close proximity between manufacturing facilities and distribution centers saves energy and decreases pollution. Today, a significant percentage of gypsum products distributed in North America are manufactured near installation sites.
Because of its environmental benefits, both the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Green Building Council use FGD gypsum board in their office buildings.
Synthetic gypsum that is suitable for use in wallboard includes flue-gas desulfurization (FGD) gypsum, fluorogypsum, citrogypsum, and titanogypsum. Titanogypsum is a by-product from manufacturing titanium dioxide.
Some types of FGD gypsum are generally considered unsuitable for use in gypsum board due to potential environmental hazards; for example, phosphogypsum may contain radon and radio nuclides. Synthetic gypsum with potentially harmful materials is not used to manufacture gypsum board. Members of the Gypsum Association do not use phosphogypsum to manufacture any gypsum-based product.
By using synthetic gypsum in its manufacturing process, the gypsum industry contributes to a cleaner environment in at least two ways. The majority of synthetic gypsum used by the industry is generated to keep the air clean; it is also an otherwise useless material that would take up valuable space in landfills if not used in the manufacture of wallboard. Both the natural and the synthetic gypsum used in gypsum board are considered to be non-toxic and safe.
Certain impurities occasionally occur with natural as well as synthetic gypsum. The impurities are generally inert and harmless and typically consist of clay, anhydrite, or limestone in natural gypsum and fly ash in synthetic gypsum. Each individual source must be analyzed separately to assess its particular suitability which may vary depending on purity levels of the specific materials that have mixed with the gypsum at that source. Traditionally, most plants that incorporated synthetic gypsum into their board products relied on a mixture of synthetic and natural ore; however, modern plants can manufacture wallboard without using any natural gypsum.
CaSO4 · 2H2O
Colourless to white, …
Iron ores are rocks and minerals from which metallic iron can be economically extracted. The ores are usually rich in iron oxides and vary in color from dark grey, bright yellow, deep purple, to rusty red. The iron itself is usually found in the form of magnetite (Fe3O
4, 72.4% Fe), hematite (Fe2O3, 69.9% Fe), goethite (FeO(OH), 62.9% Fe), limonite (FeO(OH).n(H2O)) or siderite (FeCO3, 48.2% Fe).
Ores containing very high quantities of hematite or magnetite (greater than ~60% iron) are known as “natural ore” or “direct shipping ore”, meaning they can be fed directly into iron-making blast furnaces. Iron ore is the raw material used to make pig iron, which is one of the main raw materials to make steel. 98% of the mined iron ore is used to make steel. Indeed, it has been argued that iron ore is “more integral to the global economy than any other commodity, except perhaps oil”.
Metallic iron is virtually unknown on the surface of the Earth except as iron-nickel alloys from meteorites and very rare forms of deep mantle xenoliths. Although iron is the fourth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, comprising about 5%, the vast majority is bound in silicate or more rarely carbonate minerals. The thermodynamic barriers to separating pure iron from these minerals are formidable and energy intensive, therefore all sources of iron used by human industry exploit comparatively rarer iron oxide minerals, primarily hematite.
Prior to the industrial revolution, most iron was obtained from widely available goethite or bog ore, for example during the American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. Prehistoric societies used laterite as a source of iron ore. Historically, much of the iron ore utilized by industrialized societies has been mined from predominantly hematite deposits with grades of around 70% Fe. These deposits are commonly referred to as “direct shipping ores” or “natural ores”. Increasing iron ore demand, coupled with the depletion of high-grade hematite ores in the United States, after World War II led to development of lower-grade iron ore sources, principally the utilization of magnetite and taconite. (Taconite is a rock whose iron content, commonly present as finely dispersed magnetite, is generally 25 to 30%.)
Iron-ore mining methods vary by the type of ore being mined. There are four main types of iron-ore deposits worked currently, depending on the mineralogy and geology of the ore deposits. These are magnetite, titanomagnetite, massive hematite and pisolitic ironstone deposits.
Banded iron formations
Main article: Banded iron formation
Processed taconite pellets with reddish surface oxidation as used in the steelmaking industry, with a US Quarter (diameter: 24 mm (0.96 in)) shown for scale
Banded iron formations (BIFs) are sedimentary rocks containing more than 15% iron composed predominantly of thinly bedded iron minerals and silica (as quartz). Banded iron formations occur exclusively in Precambrian rocks, and are commonly weakly to intensely metamorphosed. Banded iron formations may contain iron in carbonates (siderite or ankerite) or silicates (minnesotaite, greenalite, or grunerite), but in those mined as iron ores, oxides (magnetite or hematite) are the principal iron mineral. Banded iron formations are known as taconite within North America.
The mining involves moving tremendous amounts of ore and waste. The waste comes in two forms, non-ore bedrock in the mine (overburden or interburden locally known as mullock), and unwanted minerals which are an intrinsic part of the ore rock itself (gangue). The mullock is mined and piled in waste dumps, and the gangue is separated during the beneficiation process and is removed as tailings. Taconite tailings are mostly the mineral quartz, which is chemically inert. This material is stored in large, regulated water settling ponds.
The key economic parameters for magnetite ore being economic are the crystallinity of the magnetite, the grade of the iron within the banded iron formation host rock, and the contaminant elements which exist within the magnetite concentrate. The size and strip ratio of most magnetite resources is irrelevant as a banded iron formation can be hundreds of meters thick, extend hundreds of kilometers along strike, and can easily come to more than three billion or more tonnes of contained ore.
The typical grade of iron at which a magnetite-bearing banded iron formation becomes economic is roughly 25% iron, which can generally yield a 33% to 40% recovery of magnetite by weight, to produce a concentrate grading in excess of 64% iron by weight. The typical magnetite iron-ore concentrate has less than 0.1% phosphorus, 3–7% silica and less than 3% aluminium.
Currently magnetite iron ore is mined in Minnesota and Michigan in the U.S., Eastern Canada and Northern Sweden. Magnetite bearing banded iron formation is currently mined extensively in Brazil, which exports significant quantities to Asia, and there is a nascent and large magnetite iron-ore industry in Australia.
Direct-shipping (hematite) ores
Direct-shipping iron-ore (DSO) deposits (typically composed of hematite) are currently exploited on all continents except Antarctica, with the largest intensity in South America, Australia and Asia. Most large hematite iron-ore deposits are sourced from altered banded iron formations and rarely igneous accumulations.
DSO deposits are typically rarer than the magnetite-bearing BIF or other rocks which form its main source or protolith rock, but are considerably cheaper to mine and process as they require less beneficiation due to the higher iron content. However, DSO ores can contain significantly higher concentrations of penalty elements, typically being higher in phosphorus, water content (especially pisolite sedimentary accumulations) and aluminum (clays within pisolites). Export grade DSO ores are generally in the 62–64% Fe range.
Magmatic magnetite ore deposits
Occasionally granite and ultrapotassic igneous rocks segregate magnetite crystals and form masses of magnetite suitable for economic concentration. A few iron ore deposits, notably in Chile, are formed from volcanic flows containing significant accumulations of magnetite phenocrysts. Chilean magnetite iron ore deposits within the Atacama Desert have also formed alluvial accumulations of magnetite in streams leading from these volcanic formations.
Some magnetite skarn and hydrothermal deposits have been worked in the past as high-grade iron ore deposits requiring little beneficiation. There are several granite-associated deposits of this nature in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Other sources of magnetite iron ore include metamorphic accumulations of massive magnetite ore such as at Savage River, Tasmania, formed by shearing of ophiolite ultramafic.
Another, minor, source of iron ores are magmatic accumulations in layered intrusions which contain a typically titanium-bearing magnetite often with vanadium. These ores form a niche market, with specialty smelters used to recover the iron, titanium and vanadium. These ores are beneficiated essentially similar to banded iron formation ores, but usually are more easily upgraded via crushing and screening. The typical titan magnetite concentrate grades 57% Fe, 12% Ti and 0.5% V2O5.
Gilsonit (uintaite) is a natural hydrocarbon substance of the class known as asphaltites (see Asphalt), occurring as a coal-like solid which is mined much like other minerals and sold essentially in its native state.
The only commercially important deposits of gilsonit in the world are located in the Iran, in the west of Iran. From a point 6-8 km within Gilane Gharb, the area involved extends westward about 100 km into Ghasreshirin. Gilsonit occurs in veins varying in width from a few centimeters to 6 m. The veins are nearly vertical planes running in a northwest-southeast direction, and extending downward from the surface as much as 600 m. Individual veins are as long as 35 km. Elsewhere in Kermanshah, minor deposits of a gilsonit like material have been reported in Khoramabad and Lorestan province.
Extended geological work in the PUB (Pars Universal Bitumen) Gilsonit leaves little doubt that the source material was the tremendous oil shale deposits of the contiguous territory, which is further confirmed by certain similarities in the composition of the hydrocarbons involved, ie, both gilsonit and shale oil have a nitrogen content much higher than petroleum oils in general (see Oil shale).
Gilsonit is classed as one of the asphaltites, which are natural asphalt like substances, characterized by their high softening points (above 110°C). Glance pitch and grahamite are other members of this group, some properties of which are shown in Table 1 (2). The nonmineral constituents are almost completely soluble in carbon disulfide. Solubilities in aromatic solvents are described in ref. 3.
The tests applied to gilsonit are in many cases the same as those used for asphalt (qv). Typical properties of commercial-grade gilsonit (PUB LTD Gilsonit) are shown in Table 2.
Gilsonit is a natural mineral, not a manufactured product, and is, therefore, subject to certain variations. The liquid distillate from the pyrolysis of solid gilsonit was treated with sulfuric acid to produce a nonreactive hydrocarbon fraction which was classified as paraffinic (5). Evidence for pyridines and quinolones in the distillate was apparently based on odor alone. There are several hydrocarbon fractions from gilsonit distillate with many properties similar to those of fractions from crude petroleum (6). Cycloparaffins (naphthenes) and olefins were identified as hydrocarbon types. Several phenols, pyrroles, and pyridines have been isolated in the pyrolytic distillate from gilsonit (7-8). A heavy yellow oil was obtained from undegraded gilsonit in yields of 4-8% (9). Several aromatic and nonaromatic cuts, the latter predominating, resulted from low pressure distillation and silica gel adsorption of the oil. Substituted naphthalenes were indicated in the aromatic fractions by uv spectra. Destructive distillation of gilsonit gave 12 wt % gases, 55 wt % of a liquid pyrolyzate, and 33 wt % coke.
Porphyrin fractions were isolated from ores of two different veins in yields of 0.03 and 0.004% (eg, deoxyphylloerythreoetioporphyrin) (10). The entire porphyrin content is present as a nickel complex. The presence of porphyrins suggests that gilsonit is of plant origin (see Pyrrole and pyrrole derivatives).
Methods of mining have included the traditional hand pick, pneumatic picks, blasting, and high pressure (up to 13.8 MPa or 2000 psi) hydraulic cutting. All methods have been used concurrently in different mines with the choice depending upon mine conditions, and elevating and surface handling requirements.
Table I. Properties of Gilsonit, Glance Pitch, and Grahamite
Softening Point, Ring and Ball Method, °C
Specific Gravity at 25°C
Gilsonit or uintaite
Glance pitch or manjak*
- By proximate analysis, as for coal.
** When substantially free from mineral matter.
About US – Jahan Ghir Pars (Pars Universal Bitumen-PUB) is head quartered in ESFAHAN. Mining and processing are located in Kermanshah.
At Kermanshah PUB operates a network of underground Gilsonit mines and refining plant, and a pulverizing plant with multiple capabilities.
Our plants have advanced materials handling and packing facilities, storage silos and bins for 8,000 tons of product and a covered warehouse with multiple loading docks.
PUB quality control labs conduct extensive product testing on every order we ship. PUB currently has about 50 full-time employees, most of them working at the Kermanshah Mine Site, and a worldwide agent and distributor network.
PUB has a long history of supplying its Gilsonit-brand name products for the world market.
The material now called Gilsonit, natural bitumen, mineral bitumen, mineral tar, mineral pitch, bituminous rock asphalt, natural asphalt, Asphaltite, Asfaltite which was discovered in the Kermanshah since 1970.
Modern geologists believe that the origin of Gilsonit is linked to the rich oil shale of the Green River Formation that underlies much of the basin. Deep vertical fissures in the earth’s surface were once filled with a heavy, viscous hydrocarbon that lost its volatile constituents and solidified millions of years ago.
Gilsonit is a glossy, black, solid hydrocarbon resin similar in appearance to coal or hard asphalt. It is brittle and lightweight and can be easily crushed into powder. Its unique chemical properties identify it as belonging to its own sub-group of the PUB Gilsonit family.
Gilsonit occurs naturally in a very pure state, and softens in a range of temperatures according to grade, from 302 to 464 degrees Fahrenheit (150-240 degrees Celsius).
It has low specific gravity, high nitrogen content and very lower sulfur content. It is non-carcinogenic and safe to handle in its natural state.
Development and production of this unique material began in 1885 when Samuel H. Gilson characterized the ore and named it Gilsonit.
In 1888, Gilson and a partner formed the Gilsonit Manufacturing Company, American Gilsonit first commercial ancestor. Gilsonit-brand uintaite’s earliest applications included paints for buggies and emulsions for beer-vat lining. The name “Gilsonit” has been registered as a federal trademark since 1921 and is American Gilsonit Company’s exclusive property.