barite (bârˈĪt) [key], barytes bərĪˈtēz [New Lat., from barium], or heavy spar, a white, yellow, blue, red, or colorless mineral. It is a sulfate of barium, BaSO4, found in nature as tabular crystals or in granular or massive form and has a high specific gravity. The mineral is widely distributed throughout the world. It often occurs in veins with lead and zinc minerals. It is insoluble in water, and this property is made use of in testing for the sulfate radical. It is practically insoluble under ordinary conditions in all the usual chemical reagents. Barite is used as a commercial source of barium and many of its compounds. Ground barite is used as a filler in the manufacture of linoleum, oilcloth, paper and textile manufacturing, rubber, and plastics. Finely ground barite is used to make a thixotropic mud for sealing oil wells during drilling. Prime white, a bleached barite, is used as a pigment in white paint but is not as satisfactory as blanc fixe, a chemically precipitated barium sulfate, or lithopone, a mixture of barium sulfate, zinc sulfide, and zinc oxide.
More on barite from Fact Monster:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Mineralogy and Crystallography