Wondering Why?

Why is talc soft?

Talc is a type of mineral that is mainly composed of the hydrous form of magnesium silicate.  Many people recognize talc in powder form, but it is usually found in a more seemingly solid rock form. Talc is considered the softest mineral on the planet, and this is mainly because of its chemical and physical properties.  Under the Mohs hardness scale, the talc mineral only registers a score of 1.

The structure of talc basically makes it a very soft mineral.  It is composed mainly of sheets that have weak bonds in-between.  Because of the weak bonds between the sheets, one sheet can literally slip past another sheet rather easily.  Because of this property, talc is very soft.

Even in a rock form, typically called soapstone, talc can easily be dented or turned into its powder form. The powdered form, also called talcum powder, is what people are most familiar with.  In its powder form, it is also obvious that talc is a very soft mineral.  Many people would say that no other powder is softer and finer than talcum powder.  Talcum powder is commonly used as a moisture-absorbing agent to control perspiration on various parts of the body including the back and the feet.  Talcum powder also serves to control diaper rashes in babies.

Talc is found in many parts of the world including the western parts of the U.S., Italy, Brazil, India, Australia, and many parts of the Middle East.  Aside from its popular talcum powder use, the mineral talc is also used in making paper, some plastics, rubber, and paint.  The food industry also uses talc in the making of food additives.  In the pharmaceutical industry, talc powder is often the choice when glidants are needed in certain concentrations.  Talc also has a heat-resistant property making it an ideal ingredient in the making of stoves, laboratory counter tops, and electrical switchboards.

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