We often think of lead as the toughest metal, but did you know barium is just a little bit tougher?
An underdog on the periodic table, barium is not the most well-known element, yet every day we enjoy the benefits that barium provides us. Barium is an alkaline earth metal, primarily sourced from the minerals barite and witherite. Fresh cut barium has a silvery-white sheen but when left in contact with oxygen it quickly begins to oxidize.
A tremendous amount of barium is mined around the world every year. So where is it all going? Here, we will explore some of the major roles barium plays in our everyday lives. There is more to barium than meets the eye.
The surprising thing about the chemical world is that many times, chemists use one substance to create another. This is true of the barium used in paint making. The compound barium sulfate is used to manufacture lithopone. Lithopone is a white powder that is 20% barium sulfate, 30% zinc sulfide, and less than 7% zinc oxide. It is used throughout the paint manufacturing industry as a pigment in white paint.
Barium sulfate is also used to create a product known as blanc fixe. The product is used in making high-quality paint. To make it, barium sulfate must go through a process called precipitation, which allows chemists to extract a solid powder from a fluid solution.
Blanc fixe, made from barium sulfate, shows up in other industries besides the paint industry. One of its other most notable uses is in glass making. But the barium compounds used in glassmaking go far beyond barium sulfate. Barium chloride is widely used in glass manufacturing. The compound is made by roasting barite, coal, and calcium chloride.
Barium carbonate, which has an enormous range of uses, helps in the creation of other products similar to glass. It is used to create the specialized glass used in eyewear, called Hoptical glass. It is also instrumental in creating ceramics.
The Oil Industry
Though we are working hard to find greener alternatives, we are still dependent on oil. Surprisingly barium shows up in our oil production. When drilling for oil, a substance called drilling mud is used. There are various types of drilling mud that serve a multitude of purposes. Crude barite is used to create a specific type of drilling mud called thixotropic mud. Its purpose is to help remove rocks from the borehole and keep them from settling when the mud is not flowing.
Though the oil we use in our vehicles is an important type of oil, there’s another type of oil we use nearly every day—animal and vegetable oils. And barium shows up to help us manufacture these oils as well. The compound barium hydroxide is used in the refining process of the oils we use to cook with.
Dying and printing on fabrics can be a challenge. The textile industry uses a number of chemicals to help create the lush fabrics we enjoy every day. Barium peroxide is used to help the dying process. It starts with the compound barium oxide, which is heated to 450 degrees Celsius and combined with oxygen. The result is barium peroxide. Like most other barium compounds, barium peroxide is used in other applications as well, like welding and in creating pyrotechnics.
The barium chloride used in glassmaking is also a valuable tool in the textile industry. It is used in dying fabric. But its most interesting use is for weighting silk. Processing silk causes a loss in fabric weight. This loss in weight can cause a substantial financial loss for the silk maker. To recoup their cost, some silk makers chemically treat their silk to add weight back to the fabric.
Though most consumers have never heard of barium, it is an instrumental element in making our modern lives function. The uses for barium in manufacturing the products we use are seemingly endless.
No matter what barium compound you may be searching for, Noah Chemicals can help. Discover a wealth of barium compounds in various purities and granulations in our massive online catalog. To speak with a qualified chemist about custom chemicals and bulk ordering contact us today!
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Noah Chemicals is dedicated to providing clients the purest chemicals. Buy these chemicals directly from our massive online catalog. To speak with a qualified chemist about custom chemicals and bulk ordering contact us today!