Barite is an industrial mineral, i.e. it is used directly in its mineral form rather than as an ore for the extraction of metals. Other industrial minerals include limestone, silica, diatomaceous earth, gypsum, and many more. Chemically, barite is barium sulfate. It is nontoxic, insoluble, chemically inert and extremely stable over long periods of time. When pure, barite forms as clear, colorless crystals but it is rare to find it in this form. Rather, most barite is “massive”, occurring as masses of minute interlocking crystals that form barite rock.
Barite is used mostly (95%) as a constituent in oil and gas well drilling fluids (mud) where its weight acts to control underground gas pressure and prevent blowouts (gushers) from occurring.