Kaolin Overview

Kaolin Overview

Kaolinite is a clay mineral, part of the group of industrial minerals, with the chemical composition Al2Si2O5(OH)4. It is a layered silicate mineral, with one tetrahedral sheet linked through oxygen atoms to one octahedral sheet of alumina octahedra. Rocks that are rich in kaolinite are known as china clay, white clay, or kaolin.
The name is derived from Chinese: 高陵/高嶺; pinyin: Gaoling or Kao-ling (“High Hill”) in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province, China. The name entered English in 1727 from the French version of the word: “kaolin”, following Francois Xavier d’Entrecolles’s reports from Jingdezhen.
Kaolinite has a low shrink-swell capacity and a low cation exchange capacity (1-15 meq/100g.) It is a soft, earthy, usually white mineral (dioctahedral phyllosilicate clay), produced by the chemical weathering of aluminium silicate minerals like feldspar. In many parts of the world, it is colored pink-orange-red by iron oxide, giving it a distinct rust hue. Lighter concentrations yield white, yellow or light orange colours. Alternating layers are sometimes found, as at Providence Canyon State Park in Georgia, USA.

Structural transformations

Kaolin-type clays undergo a series of phase transformations upon thermal treatment in air at atmospheric pressure. Endothermic dehydroxylation (or alternatively, dehydration) begins at 550-600 °C to produce disordered metakaolin, Al2Si2O7, but continuous hydroxyl loss (-OH) is observed up to 900 °C and has been attributed to gradual oxolation of the metakaolin. Because of historic disagreement concerning the nature of the metakaolin phase, extensive research has led to general consensus that metakaolin is not a simple mixture of amorphous silica (SiO2) and alumina (Al2O3), but rather a complex amorphous structure that retains some longer-range order (but not strictly crystalline) due to stacking of its hexagonal layers.
2 Al2Si2O5(OH)4 → 2 Al2Si2O7 + 4 H2O
Further heating to 925-950 °C converts metakaolin to a defect aluminium-silicon spinel, Si3Al4O12, which is sometimes also referred to as a gamma-alumina type structure:
2 Al2Si2O7 → Si3Al4O12 + SiO2
Upon calcination to ~1050 °C, the spinel phase (Si3Al4O12) nucleates and transforms to mullite, 3 Al2O3 · 2 SiO2, and highly crystalline cristobalite, SiO2:
3 Si3Al4O12 → 2 Si2Al6O13 + 5 SiO2


A kaolin mine in Ruse Province, Bulgaria Kaolinite is one of the most common minerals; it is mined, as kaolin, in Brazil, Bulgaria, France, United Kingdom, Iran, Germany, India, Australia, Korea, the People’s Republic of China, the Czech Republic and the United States.

Predominance in tropical soils

Kaolinite clay occurs in abundance in soils that have formed from the chemical weathering of rocks in hot, moist climates – for example in tropical rainforest areas. Comparing soils along a gradient towards progressively cooler or drier climates, the proportion of kaolonite decreases, while the proportion of other clay minerals such as illite (in cooler climates) or smectite (in drier climates) increases. Such climatically-related differences in clay mineral content are often used to infer changes in climates in the geological past, where ancient soils have been buried and preserved.

Kaolin is used in ceramics, medicine, coated paper, as a food additive, in toothpaste, as a light diffusing material in white incandescent light bulbs, and in cosmetics. It is generally the main component in porcelain.

It is also used in paint to extend titanium dioxide (TiO2) and modify gloss levels; in rubber for semi-reinforcing properties; and in adhesives to modify rheology.

Kaolin was long used in the production of common smoking pipes in Europe and Asia.
The largest use is in the production of paper, including ensuring the gloss on some grades of paper. Commercial grades of kaolin are supplied and transported as dry powder, semi-dry noodle or as liquid slurry.

Kaolinite can contain very small traces of uranium and thorium, and is therefore useful in radiological dating. While a single magazine made using kaolin does not contain enough radioactive material to be detected by a security-oriented monitor, this does result in truckloads of high end glossy paper occasionally tripping an overly-sensitive radiation monitor.

Kaolinite has also seen some use in organic farming, as a spray applied to crops to deter insect damage, and in the case of apples, to prevent sun scald.

In April 2008, the US Naval Medical Research Institute announced the successful use of a Kaolinite-derived aluminosilicate nanoparticle infusion in traditional gauze, known commercially as QuikClot Combat Gauze.
When heated to between 650 and 900 °C kaolinite dehydroxylates to form metakaolin. According to the American National Precast Concrete Association this is a supplementary cementitious material (SCM). When added to a concrete mix, metakaolin affects the acceleration of Portland cement hydration when replacing Portland cement by 20 percent by weight.

In ceramics applications, the formula is typically written in terms of oxides, thus the formula for kaolinite is Al2O3·2SiO2·2H2O
Using the cement chemist notation this can be even written as AS2H2, with the oxides respresented as A = Al2O3, S = SiO2, H = H2O.
Kaolinite was also used as filler in Edison Diamond Discs.


Medicinal and culinary uses

A folk medicine use is to soothe an upset stomach, similar to the way parrots (and later, humans) in South America originally used it.

Kaolin is, or has been, used as the active substance in liquid anti-diarrhea medicines such as Kaomagma and Kaopectate. Such medicines were changed away from aluminium substances due to a scare over Alzheimer’s disease], but have since changed back to compounds containing aluminium as they are more effective.
Kaolin is known in traditional Chinese medicine by the name chìshízhī (赤石脂), literally “crimson stone resin”.
In Africa, kaolin is sometimes known as kalaba (in Gabon and Cameroon), calaba, and calabachop (in Equatorial Guinea). It is used for facial masks or soap and is eaten for pleasure or to suppress hunger, a practice known as geophagy. Consumption is greater among women, especially during pregnancy.

This practice is also seen among black women in the Southern United States, especially Georgia. There, the kaolin is called white dirt, chalk or white clay.

CAS NO. : 1335-30-4 (Aluminium Silicate)
1332-58-7 (Kaolin)
EINECS NO. : 215-628-2 (Aluminium Silicate)
FORMULA : Al2O3·2SiO2·2H2O
SYNONYMS : Aluminum Silicate; Silicic acid, aluminum salt; Aluminosilicic acid;Kieselsäure, Aluminiumsalz (German); ácido silícico, sal de aluminio (Spanish); Acide silicique, sel d’aluminium (French); China clay; Kaolinite; Kaopectate; Porcelain clay;
kaolin is any of a group of fine clay minerals with the chemical composition of Al2O3·2SiO2·2H2O which means two-layer crystal (silicon-oxygen tetrahedral layer joined to alumina octahedral layer) exist alternately. Clay minerals include kaolinite, nacrite, dickite, montmorillonite, illite, chlorite, attapulgite and anauxite. Chemical composiitons of kaolin minerals are same. But each differs from by layers stacked on top of one another.

Kaolinite is the principal constituent of kaolin. Its chemical structure is Al2Si2O5(OH)4 (theoretically 39.8% alumina + 46.3% silica + 13.9%) but elements are not diverted from this ideal composition. Kaolinite is a hydrous aluminum silicate prepared by the chemical weathering of feldspar and decomposition of aluminium silicate rocks. It is a soft, earthy and white mineral bur is colored light orange to red by iron oxide. kaolin minerals long have been the basic raw materials used in the ceramic industry, especially in fine porcelains. They can be easily molded, have a fine texture, and are white though fired. Large quantities of them are used also in paper coating, filler, paint, plastics, fiberglass, catalysts, and other specialty applications.

They are the main component of blue pigment called ultramarine Blue (sodium aluminosilicate containing sulphur) which is prepared by heating kaolin, sodium carbonate, sulfur and other inexpensive ingredients together. It features heat and alkali resistance. They are used to treat upset stomach medically and as an ingredient pesticide useful to replace organic pesticides.

GRAIN SIZE : 59.0 – 61.0%
KAOLINITE : 95.0% min
LOSS ON IGNITION : 14.5% max
pH : 6 – 8
Al2O3 : 39.0% min
SiO2 : 43.5% min
Fe2O3 : 0.7% max
TiO2 : 0.6% max
MnO : 0.3% max
P2O5 : 0.3% max
Na2O : 0.2% max
CaO : 0.3% max
MgO : 0.3% max
K2O : 0.2% max
SO3 : 0.03% max

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