Talc (derived from the Persian talc (تالک ) via Arabic talq (تلك)) is a mineral composed of hydrated magnesium silicate with the chemical formula H2Mg3(SiO3)4 or Mg3Si4O10(OH)2. In loose form, it is the widely-used substance known as talcum powder.


It occurs as foliated to fibrous masses, its monoclinic crystals being so rare as to be almost unknown. It has a perfect basal cleavage, and the folia are non-elastic, although slightly flexible. It is very soft and sectile (can be cut with a knife); with a Mohs hardness of 1, it can be easily scratched by a fingernail. It has a specific gravity of 2.5–2.8, a clear or dusty luster, and is translucent to opaque. Talc is not soluble in water, but it is slightly soluble in dilute mineral acids. Its colour ranges from white to grey or green and it has a distinctly greasy feel. Its streak is white. Talc is a metamorphic mineral resulting from the metamorphism of magnesian minerals such as serpentine and olivine, in the presence of carbon dioxide and water. This is known as talc carbonation or steatization and produces a suite of rocks known as talc carbonates.

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