What is chrysotile?

Chrysotile or white asbestos (3МgО·2SiO2·2H2O) is a magnesium hydrosilicate chemically similar to a well-known mineral talc (3МgО·4SiO2·H20), i.e. from the chemical point of view it is absolutely harmless for the human organism. Chrysotile crystals have an unusual structure: they are formed as very thin rolled sheets or fibrils 2.6·10-5 mm in diameter and 2-3 cm in length. Such crystals look like soft cellulose fibers of cotton wool. At the same time, being an inorganic substance, chrysotile fibers are fireproof and heat-resistant. Only being heated to 700 °C they dehydrate and become friable. The melting point of chrysotile is 1,500 °C.

Translated from Greek the term “asbestos” means “unquenchable” or “inextinguishable”. Its another name is amianthus or mountain flax. The meaning of this name is that asbestos can split into fine long fibers up to 0.5 micrometers in diameter. The Greek name characterizes the natural property of asbestos to withstand high temperatures.

Physicochemical properties of chrysotile are determined by the following parameters:
  • Tensile strength, MPa> 3 000
  • Density, g /cm3-2.4-2.6
  • Melting point, °С-1 450-1 500
  • Friction coefficient, units -0.8
  • Alkali resistance, pH-9.1-10.3
  • Specific surface area, m2/g-20