Bischofite from Antofagasta, Chile
|Crystal class||Prismatic (2/m)
(same H-M symbol)
|Color||Colorless to white|
|Crystal habit||Fibrous to massive|
|Fracture||Conchoidal to uneven|
|Mohs scale hardness||1.5–2|
|Luster||Vitreous – greasy|
|Diaphaneity||Translucent to transparent|
|Optical properties||Biaxial (+)|
|Refractive index||nα = 1.495
nβ = 1.507
nγ = 1.528
Bischofite (bischofit) is a hydrous magnesium chloride mineral with formula MgCl2·6H2O. It belongs to halides and is a sea salt concentrate dated from the Permian Period (nearly 200 million years ago). Bischofite is ecologically pure natural magnesium poly-mineral with a unique composition. It contains many macro- and micro-elements vital for human health, in much higher concentrations than can be found in sea or ocean salt. The main bischofit compound is magnesium chloride (up to 350 g/L), moreover, it contains about 70 other elements as impurities, including potassium, sodium, bromine, boron, calcium, silicon, molybdenum, silver, zinc, iron and copper.
In 1930–1950, vast bischofite deposits were discovered near the Volga River in Russia. The mineral is mined by dissolving an underground dry mineral stratum with artesian water. The resulting brine is pumped out.
Bischofite deposits differ by their composition: some of them are salt basins where bischofite is mixed with other minerals such as carnallite, halite, kieserite and anhydrite. These are the so-called bischofite containing rocks which have pink-brown-yellow and orange-red colors. They contain 36–58% of bischofite. Carnallite deposits are known in Staßfurt, Germany – where bischofite was first discovered, and carnallite is one of the most important minerals in potassium salt deposits (Solykam deposit, Ural, Russia). Sub-surface bischofite layers were also discovered in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, China and the US.
There are bischofite-rich deposits with concentrations of 93–96% of the mineral. One of those rare deposits is located in the Volgograd region of Russia. Another one was found in 1990s in the Poltava region in Ukraine. This is one of the deepest (2.5 km [1.6 mi]) and thus oldest bischofite deposits.
Bischofite has many applications ranging from construction materials (tile, stone) to agriculture (preplant seeds, plant processing during vegetation period), oil extraction (for grouting and solidifying mortars), medical and chemical industry (production of magnesium metal).
Bishofite is used in form of compresses to treat joint diseases such as arthritis, rheumatic fever osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, radiculitis, calcaneal spur and traumas, especially in rehabilitation centers in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, and Lithuania. Bischofite is also applied in gel form.
Bischofite is used in the production of the industrial Sorel cement and synthetic carnallite. Bischofite solution is applied to deice roads, similar to sodium chloride, but it is less corrosive. It is also used in agriculture, veterinary medicine and cattle breeding to increase the crop yield and treat animals.
- Webmineral data
- Handbook of Mineralogy
- Bischofite on Mindat
- Ochsenius, C. (1877): Die Bildung der Steinsalzlager und ihrer Mutterlaugensalze unter specieller Berücksichtigung der Flöze von Douglashall in der Egeln´schen Mulde. Verlag Pfeffer (Halle), 172 p.
- A. A. Spasov (2003). Local bischofite therapy (PDF). Volgograd State University. ISBN 5-88462-065-9.
- Hans-Rudolf Wenk, Andreĭ Glebovich Bulakh (2004). Minerals: their constitution and origin. Cambridge University Press. p. 562. ISBN 0-521-52958-1.
- Mark A. Shand (2006). The chemistry and technology of magnesia. John Wiley and Sons. p. 216. ISBN 0-471-65603-8.
Media related to Bischofite at Wikimedia Commons