Talc

Talc is a very soft mineral, used as hardness one on the Mohs scale.

It is one of the main ingredients in talcum powder, and is used in a wide range of cosmetic products.

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Appearance, Uses and History

Talc is used in various industries, including paper making, plastic, ceramics, paint, coatings, rubber, food, electric cable making, cosmetics and pharmacology.

In day to day use we’d probably be most familiar with its use as ‘talcum powder’, or for it being used as a coating for the inside of bicycle inner tubes and rubber gloves, where it helps to prevent rubber surfaces from sticking to one another. It is also often used in rock climbing, basketball, etc to keep the hands dry.

Talcum powder is a somewhat controversial subject nowadays, with numerous studies highlighting a potential link between talcum powder usage and certain types of cancers.

In addition to this, Talc is frequently located in underground deposits with forms of Asbestos. This means mined Talc is sometimes contaminated with forms of Asbestos. There have been a significant number of lawsuits in the USA regarding ovarian cancers due to talcum powder usage. 

Reuters conducted a large scale investigation into this issue, particularly with the company Johnson and Johnsons Talc. 


Locales

Talc has a reasonably worldwide distribution, with large deposits found and exploited in China, Brazil, India, the USA, France, Finland, Italy, Russia, Canada and Austria.

Mining of Talc in certain parts of Afghanistan has led it to be described as a conflict mineral as the mining funds confrontations including the Taliban.


Mineralogy

Chemistry
A hydrated magnesium silicate with the formula Mg3Si4O10(OH)2.
Colours and Variations
Colourless, white, grey, brown, light green.
Streak
White
Luster
Wax like, pearly.
Fracture
Uneven
Transparency
Opaque to translucent, when crystalline it can very rarely be transparent.
Crystal habit
Typically fibrous masses, rarely crystalline.
Mohs hardness
1 (defining mineral for this hardness on the Mohs scale).
Specific Gravity
2.58 – 2.83
Fluorescence
Yellow, yellow orange.
Easiest testing method
Physical exam, texture and hardness.
Common Treatments
None.

Photos of Talc

Talc-usa10c
Talc schist 3 (16735473220)
Talc-121776

Hazards and Warnings

Almost all rocks, minerals (and, frankly, almost all other substances on earth) can produce toxic dust when cutting, which can cause serious respiratory conditions including silicosis.

Talc is a little odd, though. There have been many lawsuits over the past few decades regarding the safety of talcum powder, which is sometimes contaminated with asbestos. There are some debates as to whether talc itself is safe.


Translations

Arabic:

  • التلك

Hindi:

  • तालक

Portuguese:

Bengali:

  • টালক

Indonesian:

Punjabi:

English:

  • talc

Italian:

Russian:

  • тальк

French:

Japanese:

  • タルク

Spanish:

German:

Korean:

  • 활석

Thai:

Gujurati:

Mandarin and Traditional Chinese:

  • 滑石

Urdu:


Further Reading / External Links