Orthoclase is an important silicate or a rock-forming mineral that forms in igneous rocks. Its two cleavage planes are perpendicular to each other, which gives it the look of a 'straight fracture', which is known as Orthoclase in Greek, and hence the specific name . It belongs to the mineral group of Feldspars. This mineral is also known as alkali feldspar and potassium feldspar.
Orthoclase is abundantly found in granites, pegmatites, phonolites, gneisses, and similar igneous and metamorphic rocks. It is the most common type of K-feldspars or the potassium feldspars. It is white to pink in color due to a high amount of potassium constituent. This mineral is found as grains and crystals.
The chemical formula for orthoclase is KAlSi3O8 and the composition of this mineral is: potassium (K) -14.05%, aluminum (Al) - 9.69%, silicon (Si) - 30.27%, and oxygen (O) - 45.99%. This mineral has a density of about 2.56, and its hardness is 6. Another property is that it is brittle, and hence easily breakable. Soda and lime are also found in substantial amounts in this mineral along with potassium.
It is transparent to translucent, and is also available in green, yellow, and red colored varieties apart from white and pink ones. This mineral is found all over the world, and in US, it has been discovered in Pennsylvania, San Diego, Nevada, etc. It forms in basaltic cavities called amygdaloids, and in metamorphic rocks with high temperatures.
Uses of Orthoclase
- This mineral is mainly used as gemstones because of its transparent and translucent appearance.
- It is used in various proportions while making porcelain and earthenware.
- This mineral is also utilized in wall tiles and ceramic flooring tiles, as it improves their strength and durability of the tiles.
- Glass making is also one of the uses.
- Orthoclase is used in the chemical industries as a component of flux.
- A bonding agent made out of magnesium chloride and other synthetic glue types consists of this mineral, and is required for manufacturing wheels and discs.
- This mineral is used to make a thin slurry that is mixed with silica powder for adding glaze.
Apart from the above, other applications for orthoclase feldspar include:
- Common raw material in the manufacture of geopolymers.
- Optical dating in archeology.
- Housecleaning products.
- Making of Moonstones.
- Birthstone for the people born in June.
- Fashion jewelry
- Crystal healing purposes.
- Strengthening bones.
- Boosting the energy levels.
- Meditation purposes