Difference between Clay and Clay Minerals
Clay minerals are hydrous aluminum phyllosilicates that may also contain iron, magnesium, alkali metals, alkaline earths etc in varying quantities. These are commonly found in fine-grained sedimentary rocks such as shale, siltstone, and mudstone and also in fine-grained metamorphic rocks such as slate and phyllite. Clay minerals are categorized into several groups. Kaolinite is the most common clay mineral belonging to the Kaolin clay group. The mineral is mined in large volumes across several commercial Kaolinite mines for its various industrial uses in the form of Kaolin clay.
Clays that are rich in Kaolinite mineral are known as Kaolin clay. Kaolin clay suppliers in India source the clay in different forms – hydrous, calcined and surface modified for a wide variety of applications like architectural and industrial coatings, construction, rubbers, plastics, packaging and papers.
Clays, on the other hand, are hydrous aluminum silicates containing one or more clay minerals with traces of metal oxides and organic matter. Clays are fine-grained natural rock or soil materials that become plastic when wet. Upon drying or heating, the same clay becomes non-plastic, brittle and hard. The grain size and properties of clay depend on the type of clay minerals it contains.
Clay minerals typically form over long periods of time from the gradual chemical weathering of rocks, and some are formed also through hydrothermal activity. Clays are typically formed in two ways –
1) as residual deposits in soil and remain at the site of formation, and
2) as secondary clays that are transported and deposited to a new sedimentary deposit by water erosion.
Clays can be easily identified. On the other hand, clay minerals being superfine-grained typically require special analytical techniques such as x-ray diffraction, electron diffraction methods, various spectroscopic methods and automated mineralogy processes for their identification and study. For instance, the hexagonal sheets of Kaolinite clay mineral can be clearly seen and identified using an SEM (Scanning Electron Microscopy) image.
Clays such as Kaolin clay have several industrial and commercial applications. Leading India based Kaolin clay suppliers make this clay (in its various forms) available for these applications by sourcing them from globally renowned principal suppliers.