Ever heard of or used talcum powder? Talcum is made from talc minerals. It’s a naturally occurring mineral from rock formations. While talcum powder is one of the more common applications of talc, it makes up a minor portion of the mineral’s varied usage. Its unique properties make it widely used in making paint, ceramics, paper, and many others.
How Is Talc Formed?
Talc is commonly discovered in the convergent plate borders’ metamorphic rocks. In the US, for example, most of the country’s talc deposits are formed from the reaction of dolomitic marbles and dissolved silica and magnesium contained heated fluids. Talc formation may also happen when active fluids and heat come into contact with serpentinite and dunite rocks.
As a result of both formation processes, talc has various colors, including pale green, blue, pink, gray, white, pink, yellowish white, or silver. It has a pearly, greasy, or dull luster because of artificial or natural impurities.
On the Mohs scale of hardness, talc’s hardness is just one. This denotes that talc is a very soft material, even the softest on earth. It is easily scratchable with a fingernail. Another characteristic of talc is that it dislikes water and won’t absorb any liquid.
How Is Talc Mined?
Most talc is mined using open-cut or open-cast processes, also popularly referred to as mega-mining. The talc-containing rock is first drilled at these localities before being partially crushed into tiny chunks.
The mining process requires considerable care to prevent the talc from contaminating other minerals. Otherwise, the talc’s color may suffer due to these contaminants. Besides, contamination may make the talc pose issues in specific applications because of the mineral’s softness property.
The chunks are then sent to the mills to be crushed into smaller particles. Afterward, the particles’ impurities are removed using mechanical processing or sometimes froth flotation. Typically, the mills deliver powder or crushed talc that meets the demands of the industries.
What Are the Uses of Talc?
The end-product of talc mineral has been regularly used by many. However, many still need to learn of its presence or the unique function it serves. Below are some of the common uses of the mineral:
1. Ceramic Industry
Talc has a high thermal resistance; for this, the material is considered a catalyst in the manufacturing of ceramic products. These include pottery, tiles, dinnerware, bathroom fixtures, and more. Talc’s properties improve the ceramic material’s optical and mechanical quality as well as the glazes’ appearance.
2. Plastic Industry
Like ceramic products, talc is also used as a filling agent in plastic industries. Talc particles’ platy form can make plastic-based materials like vinyl, polypropylene, nylon, polyester, and polyethylene more rigid. Moreover, it can reduce shrinkage and improve these products’ heat resistance.
3. Paint Industry
Talc is also commonly used in the manufacturing of paints as a filler and an extender. Again, the platy form of the talc particles makes it beneficial for paint industries. It improves the solids’ suspension in the paint can and promotes its application to a wall. Since talc particles have a bright white color, it enhances the brightness and whiteness of the paint.
Paper-making industries require talc to promote paper’s smoothness. As a filling agent, talc particles are added to the pulps during the paper-making process. In this way, the particles fill in the empty spaces between the pulp molecules, giving the surface of the paper smoothness for writing.
5. Cosmetic Industry
Talc is most widely used in the cosmetic industry. Its finely ground form is used to make cosmetic products applied to the skin and is washable without damaging it. Talc has an excellent absorbent capacity, making it a crucial antiperspirant additive. It can absorb sweat, oils, and odor that stick to human skin.
The use of talc has not only ended there. The mineral is an additive mineral of asphaltic materials for roofing products in the US. The talc’s variety, soapstone, is applied to produce home electrical panels, countertops, figurines, etc. Moreover, its ground form is used as a lubricating agent in high-temperature manufacturing works.
From the elaboration above, talc mineral is as valuable as other minerals, such as kaolin. Both are used in ceramic industries; talc is used as an additive, while kaolin is an essential ingredient. Should your business ever require high-quality kaolin, you can always contact PT. Yudian Kawan Mineral—the leading producer and supplier of high-quality kaolin locally and globally with over 30 years of experience.