30 Gypsum Facts For Kids To Understand About The Mineral

Vishvendra Ahlawat
Oct 24, 2022 By Vishvendra Ahlawat
Originally Published on Feb 16, 2022
Edited by Jade Scott
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
One of the most amazing gypsum facts is that it was used as a construction material in the pyramids.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.8 Min

We all see products made of gypsum in our day-to-day life such as cement, and plaster used in making sculptures.

Gypsum is used in portland cement in order to prevent any early hardening that could be a big problem in construction. In the United States, finely ground gypsum goes by the name land plaster.

Gypsum has been in use since 7000 BC and some ancient building remains in Israel have gypsum as a component in their floors.

Selenite gypsum is a form of gypsum that has been used for a long time and is still used in blackboard chalk, fertilizers, and some paints.

The chemical name of gypsum is calcium sulfate dihydrate and it is used in cement so that the plaster does not settle too quickly and gives it enough time to be given the desired shape.

Permanent damage occurs at 176 F (80 C).

Facts About Gypsum

You must have an idea about gypsum but did you know these facts about gypsum?

  • Gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral comprising of calcium sulfate dihydrate and its chemical formula is CaSO 4·2H2O
  • Gypsum is found in products used in our day-to-day life such as shampoo and toothpaste.
  • It is even used to make dental impressions, dinnerware, and even in road constructions.
  • Its also known as calcium sulfate hydrate. It is a naturally occurring mineral that is found all around the world in sedimentary rocks.
  • It is formed usually by evaporating water that contains sulfates and calcium.
  • Gypsum is ground in fin powder, either gray or white in color, and then boiled until most of its moisture is removed through the calcination process.
  • Gypsum has proved its durability as the main building material used in the pyramids was gypsum. The early Egyptians, when they found out about the use of gypsum in plaster, used it almost everywhere, in palaces, tombs, and obviously, in the pyramids.
  • The name gypsum is actually derived from the ancient Greek word 'gypsies' that basically means plaster. It is because, in ancient times, a form of gypsum was used in temple windows for cement or plaster purposes. It created a good moonlight effect when the sun shined on it.
  • That form of gypsum was called 'selenite ', named after the moon goddess Selene, and it has been in use for all these years as selenite gypsum.
  • Mainly, it is found in Brazil, Jamaica, Pakistan, and Germany in big gypsum mines but some gypsum deposits are also found in small mines in countries like Australia.
  • The world’s largest surface gypsum mine is located in Milford, Nova Scotia.

Uses Of Gypsum

Gypsum has been in use for thousands of years and is still used widely. In this paragraph, we will be discussing the most common uses of gypsum in our day-to-day life.

  • After heating gypsum stone, we get a white-colored, fine powder. It is smooth and is named gypsum powder. This powder has many benefits, with one of them being a fertilizer that is really good for agriculture purposes as a good soil conditioner. It facilitates root growth and balances micronutrients such as zinc, iron, and so on.
  • Using gypsum in agriculture helps in providing minerals such as sulfur and calcium. It is beneficial in treating acid aluminum toxicity and improves acid soil.
  • Gypsum board, more commonly known as plasterboard, consists of a paper surface. It is very easy to install and has impressive fire resistance. It is also helpful in noise reduction and is not expensive.
  • Gypsum is also added to ponds and other water sources as it settles the dust and makes the water above it cleaner and good for aquatic life as well. Some hair products also have gypsum in them.
  • In some foods, gypsum is also present and causes no harm in small amounts. It is found in food such as white bread, ice cream, flour, and canned vegetables.
  • It is most commonly used in the construction industry. Gypsum blocks and land plaster are extensively used in building construction.
  • It is also a component in portland cement and prevents rapid settling of concrete to give enough time to build. It was also used as an ancient mortar in building construction at that time.
  • In medieval periods, it was used for casting molds and as a matter for sculptures.
  • Gypsum is also used in mushroom cultivation and prevents grains from clumping altogether. It is also a common ingredient in making mead.
Gypsum got its name from the Greek word 'gypsies' which basically means plaster.

Properties Of Gypsum

Gypsum is widely used worldwide but the reason behind this is that the properties of gypsum make it so useful for us. In this section, we will be discussing the properties of gypsum that you might be unaware of.

  • Since it takes a crystal-like form, which resembles a rock like a spear, it used to be called spear stone in old English. By mixing gypsum with water we can still get its original rock gypsum or rock-like shape which can be hardened. Even throughout all this recycling, it does not lose its quality.
  • Gypsum has high compressive strength to withstand a great force applied on it.
  • It is usually white, gray, or colorless but sometimes is also found in some shades of yellow, pink, light green, and brown because of impurities present in gypsum crystals.
  • The White Sands National Monument is nothing but gypsum in sand form. As 98% white sand, there is nothing but pure gypsum sand and this phenomenon is unique because gypsum in sand form is considered to be rare.
  • Gypsum is a clear substance, which is the real reason why sand dunes here appear white like snow.
  • One of the other features of gypsum sand is that it does not absorb heat from the sun, which is the reason why even on the hottest days, the dunes are good to walk on and provide much more comfort than regular sand dunes.
  • The gypsum sand there is not a result of the disintegration of rocks, but was formed in salty brines which obtain their high-density gypsum from the sedimentary rock nearby.

Dangers Of Gypsum

As we have now seen the uses of gypsum, it is also important to tell you about dangers that could be caused by gypsum.

  • People should use gypsum properly because its improper use might result in problems such as irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory system. Symptoms might include nosebleeds, coughing, and sneezing.
  • Although gypsum is used in some supplements, it should not be mistaken for the gypsum used in gardens because it can prove to be very harmful to your health.
  • When going through a construction site, it is advised to cover your face because there is a high density of powdered gypsum in the air and if inhaled, this can cause many respiratory issues. The severity of the problem depends on the amount of dust inhaled.
  • The leftovers of gypsum such as plasterboard are often recycled so that it does not cause any harm to humans or nature.

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Sources

https://www.guyhowto.com/gypsum-occurrence-properties-uses/

https://homeguides.sfgate.com/gypsum-dangers-81601.html

https://www.mclanahan.com/blog/five-things-you-didnt-know-about-gypsum

https://www.vedantu.com/chemistry/gypsum

https://gpda.com/health-safety/

https://byjus.com/chemistry/uses-of-gypsum/

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Written by Vishvendra Ahlawat

Bachelor of Business Adminstration

Vishvendra Ahlawat picture

Vishvendra AhlawatBachelor of Business Adminstration

Vishvendra is a recent graduate with a Bachelor's in Business Administration from CCS (Chaudhary Charan Singh) University, with a strong interest in digital marketing and social media. He has perfected his skills in SEO optimization to create targeted and engaging content.

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Fact-checked by Gowri Rao

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gowri Rao picture

Gowri RaoBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

With a bachelor's degree in Economics from Krea University, Gowri is a highly skilled data analyst and an expert in regression and causation modeling. Her interests in economic trends, finance, and investment research complement her professional expertise. In addition to her professional pursuits, Gowri enjoys swimming, running, and playing the drums, and she is also a talented tutor.

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