Kaolin or kaolinite is a clay mineral primarily composed of hydrated aluminosilicates. It also contains other minerals, such as dickit, nacrite, and halloysite, in a much lesser quantity. The raw clay has various colors. Its color indicates the mineral content within; it could be pink, grey-ish, or even green. Kaolin has a neutral pH and gives more benefits when mixed with other clays minerals.
This particular mineral has picked a lot of interest from many geologists regarding its unique formation process. The presence of volcanic rocks resulting from a volcanic eruption and hydrothermal alteration indicates the formation of kaolin rocks within the ground layer.
Kaolin is widely found in many volcanic areas, especially along “the Ring of Fire.” In Indonesia, this versatile mineral can be found in Bangka Belitung, West Kalimantan, and South Kalimantan. Other areas with excellent potential for kaolin mining are North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Riau, Bengkulu, West Java, East Java, South Sulawesi, and Papua. In the industrial world, kaolin covers many modern industries; it is used as raw material for paint, ceramics, paper, pharmacy, beauty products, etc. Read on to learn more about the kaolin uses.
1. Kaolin in the Ceramic Industry
Raw ceramic naturally is a rigid material to work with. Luckily, Kaolin can provide the necessary properties to ease the shaping process to alter the ceramic before heating efficiently. Moreover, the mixture of ball clay will increase the flexibility of ceramic which is good to amplify the strength of any ceramic product.
Kaolin is also used for pottery. That being said, the mineral purity does make this material a bit harder to shape. Thus, many pottery enthusiasts only use the mineral as a filler to other main components.
2. Kaolin in Paper Industry
While paper production is not a complicated process, kaolin as a pulp filling material is beneficial to add more weight, create a whiter layer of paper, solidify the paper surface, and strengthen its durability. In other words, paper with kaolin has a smoother, brighter, and more opaque appearance.
Moreover, the newsprint industry usually uses paper with a 2% kaolin mixture, while thicker paper can contain up to 30%. The percentage will vary based on the base material and the paper thickness. In addition, kaolin is typically only used for manufacturing white paper.
3. Kaolin in Beauty Industry
Although it is commonly used for industrial purposes, kaolin is also widely used in the beauty industry. This mineral is typically used in the form of clay (widely called “beauty clay” or “facial clay”). The clay is used as a raw material for making masks. The properties of kaolin are effective as a thickening agent that functions to absorb dirt in the pores, soften facial skin, prevent acne breakouts, and improve blood circulation.
Furthermore, kaolin clay can also relieve inflammation of your skin. However, it is worth noting that kaolin uses works better with other treatments, such as aloe vera gel, to alleviate skin irritation. After all, kaolin clay is only used as a temporary alternative when inflammation occurs.
Many beauty experts agreed that kaolin is suitable for these uses:
- Maintaining excessive oil production in your skin
- Brightening your skin and correcting uneven skin tone
- Good for exfoliating and detoxification dead skin cell
These days, you can find many beauty products utilizing kaolin as one of its “natural ingredients.” Remember, kaolin is often only used as a different mixture in beauty products. While it is good to clean your skin, it is better to be mindful of other mineral content within a specific product you use daily.
Lastly, aside from its benefits for the skin, kaolin clay can be used to clean your scalp. The properties within the mineral can remove dirt, oil, and other problems that are usually causing damage to your hair. In addition, it can also strengthen the hair roots and increase blood circulation in the scalp without irritating the skin or removing the natural oils from the hair.
4. Kaolin in Paint Industry
The process of paint manufacture needs kaolin to maintain paint opacity and color brightness. In addition, kaolin mixture at a certain amount is helpful to create various color combinations and maintain paint strength and stabilize its emulsions.
In simpler terms, kaolin can act as a good pigment. The nature of its chemicals is quite effective in increasing paint density and form texture. Moreover, a paint product that contains kaolin mixture usually has better coverage than other paint containing different types of filler.
However, higher-quality paint usually uses titanium dioxide instead of kaolin. While titanium dioxide is far more superior to kaolin, it is also far more expensive. Thus, the latter is more often used as a substitute for mass production.
Kaolin in Other Industries
- Aside from those industries mentioned above, kaolin uses can also be found in your everyday products. Here are some of the best examples:
- Kaolin is used in the pharmaceutical industry to manufacture diarrhea medicine, antiseptic ointments, and ulcer treatments.
- Kaolin is used to produce lotions in various brands, mainly to treat blisters and skin inflammation.
- Kaolin is used to enhance the look of antique porcelain, non-solid earthenware, and solid earthenware.
- Kaolin is used for making rubber-based products. It is naturally suitable to maintain the strength and resistance of the rubber.
- Kaolin is also used to manufacture plastics, pesticides, fertilizers, cosmetics, cement, toothpaste, detergents, etc.
Looking at the kaolin uses above, we can safely say that this mineral is one of the most versatile materials for industrial purposes. You can use it as a mixture to amplify ceramic strength and color, enhancing paper quality, deep-cleaning your skin pores, etc. However, it is essential to note that kaolin utilization in any manufacturing process must be done by experienced professionals, especially for products that people use directly in their bodies (such as shampoo, facial mask, or soap).