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What is Perlite?

Perlite is not a trade name but a generic term for naturally occurring siliceous volcanic rock. The distinguishing feature which 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.

This expansion process is due to the presence of two to six percent combined water in the crude perlite rock. When quickly heated to above 1600 F (870 C) the crude rock pops in a manner similar to popcorn as the combined water vaporizes and creates countless tiny bubbles in the softened glassy particles. It is these tiny glass-sealed bubbles which account for the amazing lightweight and other exceptional physical properties of expanded perlite.

The expansion process also creates one of perlite's most distinguishing characteristics: its white color. While the crude perlite rock may range from transparent to light gray to glossy black, the color of expanded perlite ranges from snowy white to grayish white.

Expanded perlite can be manufactured to weigh from 2 lbs/ft3 (32 kg/m3) to 15 lb/ft3 (240 kg/m3) making it adaptable for numerous uses, including filtration, horticultural applications, insulation, inert carriers and a multitude of filler applications.


Information given herein is from sources considered reliable, but no guarantee of accuracy can be made or liability assumed.  Your supplier may be able to provide you with more precise data.  Certain compositions or processes involving perlite may be the subject of patents.
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