Speaking of why kaolin is important in our lives must be begun with bringing out its beauty. Many abandoned kaolin mine excavations in the world have now become lakes that have beautiful-colored water. The unique thing about the lake water is that it turns blue when the weather is sunny and green when cloudy.
Kaolin is a clay mineral with the main content in the form of kaolinite minerals composed of hydrated aluminosilicates. In addition to kaolinite, other minerals contained in kaolin are dickite, nacrite, and halloysite.
Kaolin also has an interest in the field of geology because of the different processes of its formation. The presence of volcanic rocks resulting from volcanoes and hydrothermal alteration is an indicator of the formation of kaolin rocks.
What Kaolin is Traditionally Used for
Kaolin has traditionally been used for several things for centuries. It is mostly used as raw material for ceramics, paint, and paper. In the paint industry, kaolin can be used as a good pigment. It can maintain color brightness, facilitate color combinations, increase paint density, form texture, and support paint coverage on the surface to be coated.
In the ceramic industry, kaolin provides plastic properties so that ceramic raw materials can be easily shaped before being burned. Along with ball clay, when used together, it will increase the plasticity of the mass (mixture), making it easier to form and strengthen the dry strength of the ceramic product.
In the paper industry, kaolin serves as a pulp filling material where the presence of kaolin in the paper will add weight, get whiter and more matte, and not easily torn. In newsprint, kaolin is present as much as 2%, while it can contain up to 30% kaolin on better paper.
Why Kaolin is Important in Our Lives
About 50% of kaolin in the world is used for paper production. As is mentioned in the previous paragraph, kaolin plays the role of adding gloss on coated paper within several grades. Furthermore, the mineral is well known for its “magic” in speeding up blood clotting to reduce the mortality rate in hemorrhagic shock cases. Kaolin-coated gauze is claimed to be effective in blood clotting according to the US military.
As if that is not enough, the Chinese clay is also important for daily uses such as:
- In toothpaste.
- In cosmetic products.
- As a light-diffuser in white bulbs.
- In non-pesticide farming, as a spray that can prevent insect damage on crops (and prevent sunscald on apples).
- In adhesives for modification of rheology.
- To heal stomach ache and treatment for diarrhea (combined with pectin) for humans and several kinds of animals.
The unique thing about kaolin is its use in the beauty industry, usually in clay or commonly called white clay. Kaolin clay is used as a raw material for making masks. It works as a thickening agent in masks that functions to absorb dirt in the pores, soften facial skin, prevent acne breakouts, and improve blood circulation in your skin.
Want to hear something more unique? Or maybe it even sounds odd? Did you know many humans consume kaolin to satisfy their craving and hunger? Yes, it exists, and the practice called geophagy is very common in Africa, especially in Gabon and Cameroon, where kaolin for consumption here is known as kalaba. The consumption is even greater among women, mainly pregnant women. Its use is sometimes said to be a habit compared to men’s cigarette smoking habit.
You may also find this dirt-eating habit among some Afro-American women in the Southern parts of the US, mostly in Georgia. The kaolin comes in varied, interesting flavors, is called white clay, white dirt, or chalk.
Side Effects You May Have from Kaolin
Kaolin is considered safe enough for daily use but may lead to mild irritation on the skin or the mucous membranes. Some kaolin products may contain crystalline silica, a carcinogen substance that we know may cause cancer. Not to mention that people risk being exposed to kaolin at the mining sites by inhaling the powder or through the eyes or skin.
So, now that you may have been aware of why kaolin is important for our daily uses. Therefore, which kaolin product would you like to start using from now on?