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).

Synonyms and Related Terms

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




Magnesite, ref 105090, Oberdorf, Austria.jpg

Chemical structure

Magnesium carbonate.jpg

Other 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 (dec)
Density 3.0
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 84.3
Refractive Index 1.508; 1.510; 1.700

Hazards and Safety

Nontoxic. Ingestion has a laxative effect. Noncombustible.

LINK: International Chemical Safety Card


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
  • 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