barite - teaching student specimens of barium sulfate UNIT OF 5 SPECIMENS
Barite is particularly dense for a non-metal - the density of barite immediately separates it from calcite, which it can resemble when in a vein. This massive barite is from a vein and shows some cleavage. Barite is variable in color due to impurities, ranging from colorless to brown.
This mineral is interesting because barite is ground to a powder and added to oil well drilling mud to increase its density. The mud is pumped down the inside of the drill string, exits at the drill bit, and flows up outside the drill pipe to carry out rock cuttings and to seal the well. Barite is added to drilling mud to prevent blowouts in gassy oil fields. It is also used as a filler in paint, in paper and in cosmetics.
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