Barite is a mineral that consists of barium sulfate (BaSO4) and gets 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 non-metallic mineral. Due to its high specific gravity, barite is suitable for a wide range of industrial, medical and construction uses, and also serves as the main ore of barium.
Barite often exists as solidifications and void-filling crystals in sediments and sedimentary rocks, and is especially common as a vein filler in limestone and dolostone. In places where these carbonate rocks are heavily weathered, sometimes there is a large accumulation of this compound in the contact between the soil and the substrate. Many commercial barite mines are produced from these residual deposits.
Application of barite
- This compound is most widely used as a weighing agent in drilling muds.
- This mineral is also used as a pigment in paints and as a weight filler for paper, cloth and rubber. The paper used to make some playing cards contains this compound between its paper fibers. This material gives a very high density to the paper, which allows you to easily transfer cards to players around the table.
- This material is used as a weight filler in tires and to make windproof tents for trucks.
- This compound is the primary barium ore used to make a wide variety of barium compounds. Some of these are used to protect against X-rays. Barite has the ability to block the emission of X-rays and gamma rays, and it is used to make high-density concrete to block the emission of X-rays in hospitals, power plants, and laboratories.
- Barite compounds are also used in diagnostic medical tests. If the patient drinks a small cup of liquid containing barium powder with the consistency of a milkshake, this liquid coats the patient’s esophagus. X-rays are taken immediately after “swallowing” the soft tissue of the esophagus (which is usually clear to X-rays) because barium is opaque to X-rays and blocks their passage. A barium enema can be used in a similar way to image the colon.
You can see analysis and photos of some Barite produced in Iran.