Clays are one of the most used and in-demand minerals. At US Labs, we do clay testing, and we can actually take an “unknown” clay sample from your deposit, and run it through several tests in order to help you classify it and see if you can market and sell it.
Categories of industrial clays
Clays that have industrial value and are found in the US are categorized in this way:
- Ball clay – these are generally kaolinite clays with minor to major amounts of ther minerals
- Bentonite clay – usually montmorillonite with minor amounts of other minerals
- Common clay – illite and chlorite are the major components
- Fire clay – usually kaolinite, halloysite, and / or diaspore
- Fuller’s earth clay – primarily attapulgite or calcium-rich montmorillonite clays, with quartz
- Kaolin clay – usually includes kaolinite or kaolin-group minerals, although other minerals may also be components
Clay testing procedures
Now, in order to find out what category your clay best fits into, and whether or not you might have something of value, you can perform the following clay testing:
- X-ray powder diffraction (XRD) clay testing – this test using deflected x-rays to determine the various minerals that are present in your clay sample
- Cation Exchange Capability (CEC) test – this clay testing procedure determines how clays will absorb positive cations and how useful the clay might be; this is an especially important testing for bentonite testing
- Whole rock major oxide analysis – this test uses x-ray fluorescence (XRF) to determine which oxides are present. This gives more insight into the minerals that are present.
Clay market matrix
Finally, all this mineral and clay data does not do a whole for you, unless you can somehow see if there is industrial value there.
This is why doing a clay market matrix is important, as the matrix shows all the clay testing results alongside industry requirements for various types of clay in the market.