Magnesium carbonate

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A fluffy white powder used as an inert pigment and as an ingredient in inks, glass, ceramic glazes, and dentifrice. Magnesium carbonate has also been used as a sorbent powder for water-free (dry) cleaning of jewelry and doll hair. Aqueous solutions of magnesium carbonate are used for neutralization and alkalization of paper.

See also Magnesium bicarbonate).




Magnesite, ref 105090, Oberdorf, Austria.jpg

Chemical structure

Magnesium carbonate.jpg

Synonyms and Related Terms

magnesite; magnesia white; Pigment White 18; Magnesiumcarbonat (Deut.)


  • Nontoxic.
  • Ingestion has a laxative effect.
  • Noncombustible.
  • ThermoFisher: SDS

Physical and Chemical Properties

  • Soluble in acids. Slightly soluble in water. Insoluble in ethanol.
  • Translucent, colorless, angular crystals; high birefringence under crossed polars; extinction is complete and straight.
Composition MgCO3
CAS 546-93-0
Melting Point 350 C (dec)
Density 3.0 g/ml
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 84.3
Refractive Index 1.508; 1.510; 1.700


Characteristics of Common White Pigments

Resources and Citations

  • Nicholas Eastaugh, Valentine Walsh, Tracey Chaplin, Ruth Siddall, Pigment Compendium, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 2004
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Susan E. Schur, Conservation Terminology: A review of Past & Current Nomenclature of Materials, Technology and Conservation, Spring (p.34-39); Summer (p.35-38); Fall (p.25-36), 1985
  • Tom Rowland, Noel Riley, A-Z Guide to Cleaning, Conserving and Repairing Antiques, Constable and Co., Ltd., London, 1981
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • Book and Paper Group, Paper Conservation Catalog, AIC, 1984, 1989
  • The Merck Index, Martha Windholz (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Rahway NJ, 10th edition, 1983 Comment: entry 5696