Magnesium silicate

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Any of several silicate compounds containing magnesium. For example:

  • Magnesium silicate, MgSiO2
  • Magnesium metasilicate, MgSiO3, occurs in nature as enstatite and chinoenstatite.
  • Magnesium orthosilicate, Mg2SiO4, occurs in nature as forsterite.
  • Magnesium trisilicate, Mg2Si3O8, occurs in nature as Meerschaum, and Sepiolite.
  • Serpentine, 3MgSiO3-5H2O, occurs in nature as antigorite and Chrysotile (asbestos).
  • Hydrous magnesium silicate, Mg3Si4O10(OH)2, occurs in nature as Steatite, and Talc.

These minerals tend to be inert and many are used as a fillers in paints, papers and crayons. They may also be used as fireproofing materials and as abrasives.

Synonyms and Related Terms

magnesium metasilicate; magnesium orthosilicate; magnesium trisilicate; serpentine; hydrous magnesium silicate; silicate de magnésium (Fr;); Magnesiumsilikat (Deut.)


  • Respirable dust from these minerals is toxic.
  • Noncombustible.

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • All are insoluble in water and ethanol.
  • Refractive Index = MgSiO2=1.651, 1.654, 1.660


Properties of Common Abrasives

Resources and Citations

  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 5727
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: ref. inde for MgSiO2=1.651, 1.654, 1.660