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What is Silicon Dioxide?

crystalline silicon dioxide also known as quartz

Silicon Dioxide aka Crystalline Quartz

Silicon dioxide also known as silica is a chemical compound of two of the most abundant chemical elements in Earth's crust, silicon (Si) and oxygen (O2).  Made up of one atom of silicon and two atoms of oxygen, its chemical formula is SiO2

Silicon dioxide (oxide means 1 dioxide means 2) is found most commonly in nature as the mineral quartz.  It's present in water, sand, animals, plants and soil.  It exists in several crystalline forms and a number of cryptocrystalline forms.

In its purest form silicon dioxide is colourless and transparent but impurities cause a wide range of colours. 

Fibrous varieties of silicon dioxide are generally known as chalcedony.  Examples include agate, onyx, bloodstone and carnelian. 

Silicon dioxide is widely used in industry because its melting point is higher than copper, iron and aluminium.  It's widely used for the production of glass, optical fibres and as a raw material in whiteware ceramics, stoneware, porcelain and industrial cement. It's also used in toothpaste because its hardness helps remove plaque.

As a food additive silicon dioxide protects dried foods from moisture and powdered foods from clumping or sticking together. 

The small white packets called silica gel often found with new merchandise contain grains of silicon dioxide.  These absorb moisture hence protect the item they're packed with.

paper silica gel packets

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