What is Talc?

Most of us know talc only in the forms of a body powder. But talc has many important uses. Talc is a mineral—the softest mineral known to man. It can be scratched easily with the fingernail. It is made of tiny flakes, or scales of magnesium.

Talc may be silvery white or even a delicate green. When talc is in solid form it is called "soapstone". In this form it is usually grayish or greenish in color, and is very soft and greasy to the touch. Often it has brown sports. The best quality talc comes from Piedmont, Italy.

There are also deposits in England, Canada, Germany, and Rhodesia. In the United States, mainly along the Atlantic Coast, there is more talc than in all the rest of the world. Because it resist ordinary heat so well and can be easily shaped, soapstone is often used in the making of household articles. For this reason it is sometimes called "poststone".


Cooking utensils and parts of stoves are sometimes made from it. Laundry tubs and sinks are also made from soapstone. Soapstone hardens at high temperatures, and so is used for lining furnaces. Slabs of soapstones are used for acid tanks in laboratories, as is cannot easily be eaten away. It is a poor conductor of electricity, and for this reason can be used as a base for switchboards and electrical insulation.

Many primitive people have shaped this minerals into cooking utensils. And the ancient Egyptians carved talc into charms, which they coated with a colored glaze. About three-quarters of the talc processed in the western world goes in to the manufacture of paint, glazed tiles and other ceramic product, roofing, paper, and rubber.

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