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Greek baros : weight : pressure.
Ita: solfato di bario
English: Barium sulphate; French: Buril sulphas; German: Glaubersalz.
Minerals; Inorganic; Column Two
Introduced by Kent: New remedies (Indian Ed. 1963), p. 45
Description of the substance
Barium sulfate (or barium sulphate) is the white crystalline solid with the formula BaSO4. It is very insoluble in water and other potential solvents. The mineral barite is composed largely of barium sulfate and is a common ore of barium.
Barium sulfate is frequently used clinically as a radiocontrast agent for X-ray imaging and other diagnostic procedures. It is most often used in imaging of the GI tract during what is colloquially known as a 'Barium meal'.
It is administered, orally or by enema, as a suspension of fine particles in an aqueous solution (often with sweetening agents added). Although barium is a heavy metal, and its water soluble compounds are often highly toxic, the extremely low solubility of barium sulfate protects the patient from absorbing harmful amounts of the metal. Barium sulfate is also readily removed from the body, unlike Thorotrast, which it replaced. The compound works due to barium's relatively high atomic number (Z = 56), since large nuclei absorb X-rays much better than smaller nuclei.
Barite (BaSO4) is a mineral consisting of barium sulfate. It is generally white or colorless, and is the main source of barium. Baryte is the British spelling, and the mineral is also called heavy spar. The radiating form is also sometimes referred to as Bologna Stone. Its Mohs hardness is 3, the refractive index is 1.63 and it has a specific gravity of 4.3-5. Its crystal structure is orthorhombic.
Barite commonly occurs in lead-zinc veins in limestones, in hot spring deposits, and with hematite ore. It is often associated with the minerals anglesite and celestite.
The name barite is derived from the Greek word βαρύς (heavy). In commerce, the mineral is sometimes referred to as "barytes." The term "primary barite" refers to the first marketable product, which includes crude barite (run of mine) and the products of simple beneficiation methods, such as washing, jigging, heavy media separation, tabling, flotation, and magnetic separation. Most crude barite requires some upgrading to minimum purity or density. Barite that is used as an aggregate in a "heavy" cement is crushed and screened to a uniform size. Most barite is ground to a small, uniform size before it is used as a filler or extender, an addition to industrial products, or a weighting agent in petroleum well drilling mud.
BARIUM (symbol Ba, atomic weight 137.37 [0=,6]), one of the metallic chemical elements included in the group of the alkaline earths. It takes its name from the Greek f3apvs (heavy) on account of its presence in barytes or heavy spar which was first investigated in 1602 by V. Casciorolus, a shoemaker of Bologna, who found that after ignition with combustible substances it became phosphorescent, and on this account it was frequently called Bolognian phosphorus. In 1774 K. W. Scheele, in examining a specimen of pyrolusite, found a new substance to be present in the mineral, for on treatment with sulphuric acid it gave an insoluble salt which was afterwards shown to be identical with that contained in heavy spar. Barium occurs chiefly in the form of barytes or heavy spar, BaS 04, and witherite, BaCO 3, and to a less extent in baryto-calcite, baryto-celestine, and various complex silicates. The metal is difficult to isolate, and until recently it may be doubted whether the pure metal had been obtained. Sir H. Davy tried to electrolyse baryta, but was unsuccessful; later attempts were made by him using barium chloride in the presence of mercury. In this way he obtained an amalgam, from which on distilling off the mercury the barium was obtained as a silver white residue. R. Bunsen in 1854 electrolysed a thick paste of barium chloride and dilute hydrochloric acid in the presence of mercury, at 10o C., obtaining a barium amalgam, from which the mercury was separated by a process of distillation. A. N. Guntz (Comptes rendus, 1901, 133, p. 872) electrolyses a saturated solution of barium chloride using a mercury cathode and obtains a 3% barium amalgam; this amalgam is transferred to an iron boat in a wide porcelain tube and the tube slowly heated electrically, a good yield of pure barium being obtained at about looo C. The metal when freshly cut possesses a silver white lustre, is a little harder than lead, and is extremely easily oxidized on exposure; it is soluble in liquid ammonia, and readily attacks both water and alcohol.
Barium and its salts can be readily detected by the yellowishgreen colour they give when moistened with hydrochloric acid and heated in the Bunsenflame, or by observation of their spectra, when two characteristic green lines are seen. In solution, barium salts may be detected by the immediate precipitate they give on the addition of calcium sulphate (this serves to distinguish barium salts from calcium salts), and by the yellow precipitate of barium chromate formed on the addition of potassium chromate. Barium is estimated quantitatively by conversion into the sulphate.