Calcium Carbonate - an exceptional & noble mineral General Information about Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3)

The benefits of calcium carbonate have been known for hundreds of years. The Ancient Egyptians built their pyramids of this material, and the Romans later used it to erect their famous structures.

.What is calcium carbonate?

Calcium carbonate consists of three elements that are essential to all material on Earth, whether organic or inorganic: carbon, oxygen and calcium. Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is a non-toxic, odourless, white solid. One of the most plentiful of Earth’s raw materials, the crust of Earth contains more than 4% calcium carbonate. It is found all over the world as rock, and is the prime ingredient in seashells. It’s also the main cause of hard water. It is found in the water of rivers and oceans, and is also located in molten form as "cold" carbonatite-lava. The beautiful stalactites and stalagmites we see in caves are made from calcium carbonate, and even entire mountain ranges can be made from it.

.Calcium carbonate geology

Calcium carbonate is generally found as a white mineral (calcite) and appears naturally in chalk, limestone and marble. A number of these rocks were created by processes that were inorganic, but plenty of rocks were formed through organic processes, which is when the base ingredient consists of sea organisms. Most of these rocks are classed as limestone, which is a generic term for rocks consisting of different percentages of calcite and dolomite, with small levels of iron-bearing carbonates. Dolomite itself is a double carbonate of calcium and magnesium and has the chemical formula of CaMg(CO3)2. Limestone is generally clear or white but when there are impurities present they can be other colours (namely white, tan or grey).

Calcite comprised of hexagonal crystals is the most common natural form of calcium carbonate. Less commonly found is aragonite, and this has a discrete or clustered needle, orthorhombic crystal structure. The conditions for aragonite to form are very specific, namely in thermal springs, although mollusc shells and pearls consist of aragonite as well.

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.A long history of uses from prehistory to the present day

From times long past until the present day, calcium carbonate has been used in a multitude of ways. Our quality of life has been greatly enhanced through the various characteristics of calcium carbonate.

These days, calcium carbonate powers, dolomite and other precipitated products make up some of the most essential and adaptable materials used. From fillers and additives with specific purposes to industrial uses such as adhesives and sealants, building products, glass, paints and inks, paper, plastic and rubber, animal feeds, flue-gas desulphurisation, fertilisers, food, personal care, pharmaceuticals and water treatment.