Gypsum is a mineral that can be found in various items we use today. It is used to produce drywall and Portland cement, moulds for dental impressions and dinnerware, and to build highways and roads. If you want to know more about gypsum and its uses, then keep reading below:
What is Gypsum?
Gypsum, also called calcium sulphate hydrate, is a mineral found in sedimentary rock. Gypsum is formed by the evaporation and replacement of waters containing sulphates and calcium.
Grey or white in colour, this amazing mineral can be crushed into fine dust and heated until most of the moisture is eliminated. This process is called calcination. Once this process is complete, water is then added to the powder to create a malleable material that can be moulded into any shape and will solidify to hold that form. Gypsum can also be added to other raw materials to join them together.
Thanks to its binding powers, gypsum is a key component in most toothpaste. It is also used in lots of foods including ice cream, canned vegetables, and tofu; as a plaster to create surgical casts; and as a fertiliser, conditioner, and amendment for agricultural application.
Some of the other things gypsum can be used for include:
- For making mead and brewing beer
- As a reinforcing component in Portland cement
- On highways and roads
- As classroom or pavement chalk
- In hair products like creams and shampoos
- For clearing particles in ponds
- For creating plasterboard, drywall, or wallboard
- For binding the clay on tennis courts
- As moulds for car windows, dinnerware, and dental impressions
- And lots more!
Desirable Properties of Gypsum
Some of the most desirable properties of gypsum include:
- The accuracy
- Ability to reproduce.
- Dimensional stability
- Compatibility with impression materials
- Resistance to abrasion
- Ease of use
Different Types of Gypsum
As we mentioned above, natural gypsum can be found in sedimentary rock formations. Natural gypsum can be mined in over 85 countries around the world, including Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Gypsum rock is mined or quarried, crushed, or ground into a fine powder. The calcined gypsum becomes the base for gypsum plaster, gypsum boards, and other gypsum products.
Another type of gypsum is synthetic gypsum. One example of synthetic gypsum is FGD gypsum. FGD gypsum and natural gypsum have the same chemical makeup – they are both calcium sulphate dihydrate. FGD gypsum has become extremely popular over the last few years. This is because the sales and production of FGD gypsum push power producers to obtain waste for reuse. This helps to reduce environmental pollution.
Other synthetic gypsums include:
- Glue-gas desulfurization (FGD)
- Titanogypsum – this is a by-product of producing titanium dioxide.
Both synthetic and natural gypsum are considered safe and non-toxic. However, some types of gypsum are considered unsuitable due to the environmental hazards they pose.
Gypsum and gypsum products are mainly used for construction purposes. However, this is not the only use of this amazing mineral. Gypsum can also be used in industry for making moulds, pottery etc. It is used by orthopaedic doctors to make plaster casts and can be used by dentists for cast preparation, dies and models, investment material, impression material, mounting of casts, and as a mould for processing of complete dentures etc. Gypsum can also be used for a range of other purposes too.
Here are some of the FAQs about gypsum:
- When was gypsum first discovered? – Evidence suggests that the Egyptians were the first people to use gypsum as a building material. The Egyptians discovered that this mineral could be made into plaster. Once they had learnt this, they started using it everywhere inside their pyramids, palaces, and tombs. As the pyramids are still going strong today, thousands of years on, gypsum has proven to be an extremely strong and durable building material.
- Where did the name gypsum come from? – gypsum was named by the ancient Greeks. The word comes from the ancient Greek term “gypsos”, which means plaster.
- Is gypsum fire retardant? – evidence suggests that gypsum covered walls offer some degree of fire protection. Nowadays the ceilings and walls of many buildings are coated with drywall. This is because drywall is not only simple to install, and easy to finish with a coat of paint, but it also offers some degree of fire protection too. Although gypsum is not completely fireproof, it will help to protect a property from damage for some time.
- How should you store gypsum board? – it is always advisable to hold off ordering gypsum products until they are needed on site. This will help to minimise damage to the material and reduce the risk of mould growth in nearby areas of raised moisture. It is also advisable to store gypsum boards in an enclosed, dry area such as a garage. This can help to minimise exposure to rain, etc.
Although you may not realise it, gypsum plays an important part in our lives. In fact, gypsum is all around us. It can be found in most of our homes, hygiene, and food products, and it can also be added to other materials to make them bond together. So, the next time you are brushing your teeth, sitting at home, enjoying a game of tennis, walking down the street, or even washing your hair, think about how all these things are feasible because of a mineral called gypsum.