Calcium carbonate

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A white powder that can occur in three crystalline forms: calcite (hexagonal-rhombohedral), aragonite (orthorhombic) and vaterite. Calcium carbonate occurs naturally in many forms such as chalk, limestone, marble and sea shells. It can be found worldwide and ranges in color (because of impurities) from white to gray to yellow. A white pigment of calcium carbonate is prepared by grinding limestone, chalk or shells with water then using levigation to separate the coarser material. Artificial chalk, also known as precipitated chalk, is whiter and more homogeneous than natural chalk. Pearl white is made from calcined oyster shells.

Synonyms and Related Terms

chalk; carbonate de calcium (Fr.); Kalziumkarbonat (Deut.); carbonato clcico (Esp.); carbonato de calcio (Esp.); calciumcarbonaat (Ned.); gofun (Jap.); aragonite; pearl white; oystershell white; shell white; marble; limestone, whiting; lime white; marl; travertine; Pigment White 18; white earth; English white; Paris white; drop chalk













Chemical structure

Calcium carbonate.jpg

Other Properties

Particle size = 0.1-10 micrometers. Insoluble in water. May fluoresce a medium purple color in ultraviolet light. Reacts with acids to evolve carbon dioxide.

Composition CaCO3
CAS 471-34-1
Density 2.7-2.95
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 100.09
Refractive Index 1.510; 1.645

Hazards and Safety

No significant hazards.

Mallinckrodt Baker: MSDS

Additional Information

R. Gettens, E. West Fitzhugh, R.Feller, "Calcium Carbonate Whites", Artists Pigments, Vol. 2., A. Roy ed. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1993.


Properties of Common Abrasives

Characteristics of Common White Pigments


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