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Bentonite has been called the mineral with 1000 uses. A highly absorbent clay, it was originally known as “mineral soap” and “soap clay.” Wilbur C. Knight coined the term “Bentonite” in 1898 when the world’s largest deposit was discovered in the Benton Shale near Rock River, Wyoming. Bentonite Direct’s supplies of Bentonite come from mines in this region.

Bentonite’s unique properties make it an important mineral in a number of industries.

Sodium Bentonite expands when wet, absorbing many times its dry mass. Because of these colloidal properties, it is often used in drilling mud in the Oil and Gas Industry and in Environmental investigations.

This property of swelling also makes Sodium Bentonite useful as a sealant. A common application for Bentonite is to seal ponds and wells. As an environmental sealant, it is often used as a liner in landfills, to seal subsurface disposal systems for spent nuclear fuel, and to quarantine metal pollutants of groundwater. It is also used in the construction industry to waterproof below-grade walls and foundations and form impermeable barriers.

Bentonite’s rheological properties are particularly useful in horizontal directional drilling. Relatively small quantities of Bentonite suspended in water form a viscous, shear thinning material. At high concentrations, Bentonite suspensions take on the characteristics of a gel. As a result, Bentonite is a common component of drilling mud which is used to curtail drilling fluid invasion by aiding in the formation of mud cake.

Other industrial uses for Bentonite include the manufacture of cement, adhesives, ceramics, and cat litter. In the Steelmaking industry, it is used as a binding agent for Taconite pellets. Bentonite clay is also used to make rocket nozzles in the Pyrotechnics industry.

Most high-grade sodium Bentonite is produced in the Western United States between the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Big Horn Basin of Wyoming. Wyoming Bentonite consists of hydrous silicate of alumina, commonly referred to as Montmorillonite clay. The structure of Bentonite is much like a sandwiched deck of cards. When placed in water, these cards or clay platelets shift apart. Bentonite attracts water to its negative face and magnetically holds the water in place. That is why Wyoming sodium Bentonite can swell up to 16 times its original size and absorb up to 10 times its own weight in water.

The Many Uses of Bentonite

  • Agriculture and Animal Feeds
  • Asphalt Emulsifiers
  • Ceramics
  • Construction and Civil Engineering
  • Detergents
  • Environmental Sealants
  • Horizontal Drilling
  • Household Cleaners
  • Industrial Coatings
  • Iron Ore Pelletizing
  • Metal Casting
  • Oils/Food Processing
  • Oil and Gas Drilling
  • Paints, Dyes and Polishes
  • Papermaking and Paper Recycling
  • Pet Products
  • Pharmaceuticals, Cosmetics and Medicine
  • Wastewater Treatment
  • Wine and Juice Clarification