Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- Calamine is the common name for an ore of zinc. In the late 18th century it was discovered that what had been thought to be one ore was actually two distinct minerals: zinc carbonate ZnCO3 and zinc silicate Zn4Si2O7(OH)2.H2O. The two minerals are usually very similar in appearance and can only be distinguished through chemical analysis. The first to separate the minerals was the British chemist and mineralogist James Smithson in 1803. In the mining industry the term calamine is still used to refer to both minerals indiscriminately.
In mineralogy there have been attempts to restrict the name calamine to one of these minerals, with the other called smithsonite after Smithson. Unfortunately there have been some differences over how to do this. To an American mineralogist, calamine is zinc silicate and smithsonite is zinc carbonate. To a British mineralogist, however, it is zinc carbonate that is usually called calamine.
The International Mineralogical Association offer some guidelines as to the naming of minerals. They have defined calamine as the silicate of zinc. However, in practice, you may find that calamine refers to either the silicate, the carbonate or both.
- Calamine is also a pinkish powder made from a mixture of zinc oxide and iron(III) oxide. The powder is used in lotions and ointments (most famously, calamine lotion) to treat sunburn, eczema, rashes and insect bites and stings. It has a cooling and soothing effect offering symptomatic relief and is a mild antiseptic - helping to prevent infections that can be caused by scratching the affected area.
- Calamine is also an NYC based indie-pop band. They perform the theme song for the television show Sealab 2021.
- La Calamine is also the French name of Kelmis, a city located in the German-speaking area of Belgium in Wallony , .
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