HISTORY, NAME, LOCALITIES: Talc has been known since antiquity. Its name stems from the Arabic talq, meaning “pure,” alluding to the white color of its powdered form. Collecting localities are found in Germany, Austria, Japan, Brazil, China, Canada, and the United States (Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, California, Texas).
MINERALOGY, PROPERTIES, OCCURRENCE: Talc [basic magnesium silicate, Mg3Si4O10(OH)2], pronounced as spelled with the “a” sounded as in “calcium,” crystallizes in the monoclinic system in massive, granular, foliated, fibrous, and waxy forms and only rarely as crystals. With a Mohs hardness of 1.0, talc is the softest of all minerals. It is translucent to opaque with a pale- to bright-green color and has perfect cleavage in one direction and a specific gravity of 2.7-2.8. Powdered talc is bright white. Talc is a phyllosilicate or sheet silicate and a secondary mineral that forms through the thermal alteration of magnesium-rich rocks.
METAPHYSICAL PROPERTIES, LORE, USES: Talc is the oldest-known white pigment and was used in prehistoric cave paintings. According to metaphysical beliefs, talc enhances clarity and purity of thought and brings good fortune. Talc is mined for use in the manufacture of paint, plastics, paper, ceramics, foam packing materials, cosmetics, and talcum powders. The massive soapstone variety has long been a popular carving medium for ornamental objects.
COLLECTORS’ INFORMATION: Talc is collected for its rank as the softest of all minerals, green color, and lack of crystal structure.