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Perlite Origin and Characteristics
Perlite is a naturally-occurring siliceous rock. The distinguishing feature that sets perlite apart from other volcanic glasses is that when heated to a suitable point in its softening range, it expands from four to twenty times its original volume.
While the crude rock may range from transparent light gray to glossy black, the color of expanded perlite ranges from snowy white to grayish white.
Why Perlite Works
Expanded perlite particles are clusters of minute, lightweight, insulating, glass bubbles. Its unique internal structure, together with a large exterior irregular surface composed of broken bubbles and surface openings provide for water and air holding capacity.
Its internal structure resists thermal transmission, and crushed particles present a maze of microscopic pathways that can be used to filter and clean a wide array of liquids
The Expansion Process
This expansion process also creates one of perlite's most distinguishing characteristics: its white color.
This expansion is due to the presence of two to six percent combined water in the crude perlite rock. Expanded perlite can be manufactured to weigh as little as 2 pounds per cubic foot (32kg/m3), making it adaptable for numerous applications.
Because perlite is a form of natural glass, it is classified as chemically inert and has a pH of approximately 7.
Expanded Perlite: Grades Physical Characteristics Applications
Our thanks to the Perlite Institute for the information on Perlite