Fancy a wrestle? – Kaolinite

What does it look like?

Image generated by the VESTA (Visualisation for Electronic and STructual analysis) software http://jp-minerals.org/vesta/en/

Image generated by the VESTA (Visualisation for Electronic and STructual analysis) software http://jp-minerals.org/vesta/en/

What is it?

Clay minerals are made up from layers of silicate (silicon and oxygen) and layers of metal oxide, which are sandwiched together with water. They are part of a group of layered silicate minerals, called phyllosilicates (the name has the same origin as filo or phyllo pastry!).  These layers can swell up and take in many things from their surroundings.

Kaolinite is one of the simplest phyllosilicate, made up of repeating silicate (blue tetrahedra) and alumina (green octahedral) layers.  It’s often the mineral used in clay masks, the layers in the structure can then grab the moisture from our skin and suck it in, along with all the grub and grime. The layers within kaolinite also make the materials very soft and slippery, which is why they are nice to put on your skin and are the main type of ‘mud’ used in mud wrestling

Where did the structure come from?

The structure of Kaolinite is #9009230 in the open crystallography database.

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2 thoughts on “Fancy a wrestle? – Kaolinite

  1. Kaolinite is allegedly the base material in the thickshakes served by a distinguished fast food chain. I’ve never hunted down and verified if this is true, but I love the idea that you’d be slurping artificially flavoured mud.

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