Barium carbonate

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A heavy white powder that occurs in nature as the mineral witherite. Barium carbonate is used as a pigment in the manufacture of paints, glazes and synthetic marble. When barium hydroxide is used as an alkalizing agent for paper, it can react with carbon dioxide and precipitate as barium carbonate to provide an alkaline reserve. Both barium hydroxide and barium carbonate are highly toxic. Barium carbonate is used commercially in rat poison, bricks, cement, and mortar.

Synonyms and Related Terms

witherite; carbonate de baryum (Fr.); Pigment White 10; CI 77099



Chemical structure

Barium carbonate.jpg

Other Properties

Soluble in acid. Insoluble in water.

Flat tablets that are colorless under plane-polarized light; high brefringence with complete extinction; interference colors are often seen. Fluoresces a light blue color in both long and short wave UV

Composition BaCO3
CAS 513-77-9
Mohs Hardness 3.5
Melting Point 811
Density 4.275
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 197.34
Refractive Index 1.529; 1.677; 1.676
Boiling Point 1300

Hazards and Safety

Highly toxic by ingestion. Contact with skin and membranes may cause irritation.

Mallinckrodt Baker: MSDS


Characteristics of Common White Pigments

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Nicholas Eastaugh, Valentine Walsh, Tracey Chaplin, Ruth Siddall, Pigment Compendium, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 2004
  • R. J. Gettens, G.L. Stout, Painting Materials, A Short Encyclopaedia, Dover Publications, New York, 1966 Comment: density 4.3 and ref. index 1.529; 1.677; 1.676
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 84
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: Entry # 966
  • Book and Paper Group, Paper Conservation Catalog, AIC, 1984, 1989