Staff member
Jun 3, 2020
Baryte (also called as Barite) is a mineral composed of barium sulfate (BaSO4). It is usually white or colorless. Baryte has extremely high specific gravity for a nonmetallic mineral which makes it suitable for a wide range of manufacturing, industrial, and medical uses. It is also the main source of the element barium.

Baryte occurs in many depositional environments, especially as concretions and vein fillings in carbonate rocks. It is also found as concretions in sand and sandstone, as a gangue mineral in sulfide ores, as a common mineral in hydrothermal veins, and as a sinter at hot springs. It is also found in association with ores of several metals.

Baryte is generally easy to identify due to its high specific gravity, low hardness, and prismatic cleavage. These three physical properties are usually enough to identify the mineral.

China and India have the largest reserves of Baryte and they are the leading producers. The United States doesn't produce enough baryte to meet its domestic needs.

Uses of Baryte
  • Oil and gas drilling - Most barite produced worldwide is used as a weighting agent for drilling fluid in oil and gas exploration to suppress high formation pressures and prevent well blowouts. As Baryte is non-magnetic, it doesn't interfere with magnetic measurements taken in the borehole. Baryte is finely ground and added to mud mix. It is then pumped down the drill stem and returns to the surface through the space between the drill stem and the wall of the well. As Baryte is soft, it doesn't damage the drill bit. It cools the drill bit and pushes the rock cuttings to the surface. The deeper the well, the more Baryte is required for drilling.
  • Mining - Baryte is the primary ore of barium, which has several applications in power plants, hospitals, and laboratories.
  • Others - Baryte has several other uses primarily due to its high specific gravity. It is used as a pigment in paints, filler in paint and plastics, and as a weighted filler for paper, cloth and rubber. It is also sometimes used as a gemstone.

Physical Properties

Crystal SystemOrthorhombic
ColorColorless, white, light shades of blue, yellow, grey, brown
LusterVitreous, Pearly
CleavageVery good, basal, prismatic
Mohs Scale Hardness3 to 3.5
DiaphaneityTransparent to opaque
Specific Gravity4.3 to 5
Chemical CompositionBaSO4
Diagnostic PropertiesHigh specific gravity, cleavage, low hardness.


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