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Perlite is not a trade name but a type of glassy volcanic rock originating from lava of strictly determined chemical composition and crystalline water content. The perlite ore is crushed, dried and graded. When perlite ore grains are abruptly subjected to immediate heat near to their softening point (870oC) the combined water rapidly vaporizes causing them to expand 4 to 20 times their original volume. The expansion process creates countless air voids in the grains which account for the lightweight and excellent insulating properties of expanded perlite.


Construction Applications
Because of Perlite's outstanding insulating characteristics and light weight, it is widely used as loose-fill insulation in masonry construction. In this application, free-flowing perlite loose-fill masonry insulation is poured into the cavities of concrete block where it completely fills all cores, crevices, mortar areas and ear holes. In addition to providing thermal insulation, perlite enhances fire ratings, reduces noise transmission and it is rot, vermin and termite resistant. Perlite is also ideal for insulating low temperature and cryogenic vessels. When perlite is used as an aggregate in concrete, a lightweight, fire resistant, insulating concrete is produced that is ideal for roof decks and other applications. Perlite can also be used as an aggregate in Portland cement and gypsum plasters for exterior applications and for the fire protection of beams and columns. Other construction applications include under-floor insulation, chimney linings, paint texturing, gypsum boards, ceiling tiles, and roof insulation boards.

Horticultural Applications
In horticultural applications, perlite is used throughout the world as a component of soilless growing mixes where it provides aeration and optimum moisture retention for superior plant growth. For rooting cuttings, 100% perlite is used. Studies have shown that outstanding yields are achieved with perlite hydroponics systems. Other benefits of horticultural perlite are its neutral pH and the fact that it is sterile and weed-free. In addition, its light weight makes it ideal for use in container growing.
Other Horticultural applications for perlite are as a carrier for fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides and for palletizing seed.
Horticultural perlite is as useful to the home gardener as it is to the commercial grower . It is used with equal success in greenhouse growing, landscaping applications and in the home in house plants.

Industrial Applications
Industrial applications for perlite are the most diverse, ranging from high performance fillers for plastics to cements for petroleum, water and geothermal wells. Other applications include its use as a filter media for pharmaceuticals, food products, chemicals and water for municipal systems and swimming pools.
Additional applications include its use as an abrasive in soaps, cleaners, and polishes, and a variety of foundry applications utilizing perlite's insulating properties and high heat resistance. This same heat resistant property is taken advantage of when perlite is used in the manufacture of refractory bricks, mortars, and pipe insulation.

For more information, visit Perlite Institute Inc.

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