From prehistoric times, clay has been indispensable in architecture, in industry, and in agriculture. As a building material, it is used in the form of brick, either sun-dried (adobe) or fired. Clays are also of great industrial importance, e.g., in the manufacture of tile for wall and floor coverings, of porcelain, china, and earthenware, and of pipe for drainage and sewage. Highly absorbent, bentonite is much used in foundry work for facing the molds and preparing the molding sands for casting metals. The less absorbent bentonites are used chiefly in the oil industry, e.g., as filtering and deodorizing agents in the refining of petroleum and, mixed with other materials, as drilling muds to protect the cutting bit while drilling. Other uses are in the making of fillers, sizings, and dressings in construction, in clarifying water and wine, in purifying sewage, and in the paper, ceramics, plastics, and rubber industries.
Sections in this article:
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
More on clay Uses from Fact Monster:
See more Encyclopedia articles on: Geology and Oceanography