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A heavy, white mineral composed of barium sulfate. Barite occurs worldwide including Germany (North Rhine-Westphalia), France, Spain (Castile, Andalusia), England, Canada (Ontario, Nova Scotia, British Columbia), and the U.S.(New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, Georgia, Tennessee, and California). The transparent to translucent stone can produce a sulfur-like odor when two pieces are rubbed together. Barite is ground to produce the natural form of barium sulfate white pigment called barium white that is often used as an extender.


Synonyms and Related Terms

barium sulfate; baryte; barium white; Pigment White 22 (natural); barus (Gr.); Baryt (Deut., Pol., Sven.); barytine, barite (Fr., Port.); baritina (Esp.); barita (Esp.); Schwerspat (Deut.); bariet (Ned.); heavy spar; baryta; Bologna stone; desert rose (red color, flower-like formation)






MFA- Barium sulfate.jpg



Other Properties

Orthorhombic crystal system with tabular, lamellar, or fibrous crystals. Perfect cleavage in one direction, good in a second direction. Fracture = uneven. Luster = vitreous; Streak = white;

Low birefringence. Under cross polars, rotating the stage may cause the particles to twinkle.

Composition BaSO4
Mohs Hardness 3.0 - 3.5
Density 4.3-4.6
Refractive Index 1.636; 1.637; 1.648

Additional Information

Mineralogy Database: Barite


Characteristics of Common White Pigments

Additional Images

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Nicholas Eastaugh, Valentine Walsh, Tracey Chaplin, Ruth Siddall, Pigment Compendium, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 2004 Comment: Refractive index: alpha=1.634-1.637, beta=1.636-1.638, 1.646-1.648


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  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
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