The term "carbonates" is used to refer to the minerals and salts of the polyatomic anion with the formula CO32-. The ion's structure consists of three oxygen atoms surrounding a carbon atom. Calcium carbonate and sodium carbonate are examples of more commonly known carbonates.
Carbonates have hundreds of uses. Sodium carbonate, or soda ash, is used for manufacturing detergents, glass and soaps, among other things. Calcium carbonate, or limestone, is used in the refinement of iron ore for manufacturing steel and making cement. Lithium carbonate is used in the production process of aluminum, ceramics, glasses and pharmaceuticals. Potassium carbonate is also used for manufacturing glass.