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Pegmatite mines,feldspar and industry
feldspar in industry
Not another pegmatite article!Oh yes I like writing about pegmatites.Not to mention they are a favorite place for collecting rocks and minerals.If you have read my articles you know feldspar is a major component in pegmatites.New York and New England have many old pegmatite mines.Most of these mines were originally mined for mica.Some however were feldspar mines.
Feldspar has long been used in ceramics,porcelain,china and earthenware.The feldspar is a major portion of the body of these wares and acts as a flux.Earthenware is one of the oldest pottery materials.Earthenware has about 15% feldspar in the mix. In porcelain the high glaze that feldspar provides makes it ideal for bathroom fixtures and tiles.And those lovely china dishes and tableware contain feldspar.
Feldspar is used in glass making.Here again as a flux,which simple means it lowers the melting point of the glass making process.The alumina content of feldspar provides resistance to bending,thermal shock and impact to glass.The glass industry consumes 60% of the feldspar production and is the number one user of feldspar.
So early on the feldspar was used in ceramics and glass making.But did you know it was used as chicken grit?Chickens and poultry need grit to digest food.They store the grit in the gizzard where it acts like teeth to grind up the food.
Feldspar is also used as a filler.it is used in paints,plastics,rubber and adhesives as a filler ingredient.It is used to make abrasive wheels and discs as a bonding and filler.Soaps,cement,concrete,textiles and paper use feldspar as a filler.It is used in fertilizer and applied to paper tar roofing. It is an ingredient in Bon Ami cleaner and other abrasive cleaners.
Feldspar is mined worldwide.Italy is the main producer.The Middle East and China produce a major percentage of the worldwide output.
Feldspar has a long history of use in pottery.The earliest pottery dates to over 20000 BCE!Here in the US the old pegmatite mines date back to the 1800s.They provided jobs for miners and industries.Today the old pegmatite mines are closed and forgotten places.Places fading into history and many being overtaken by nature again.Others are the favorite places to visit for rockhounds and other back to nature types.