What Is Gypsum Used For?

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Manufacturers use gypsum in producing wallboard for home construction. The material is also used in cement and conditioning soil. Satin spar and alabaster gypsum are used for ornamental purposes, according to Geology.com.

There are gypsum deposits in 85 countries and in 17 states of the United States. After mining and crushing gypsum into a fine powder, manufacturers heat the material to remove much of the water that is chemically bound to it. This powder becomes the basis for many gypsum products.

Manufacturers also reclaim gypsum as a part of the process of desulfurizing the fuel stacks of power plants. Over half the wallboard produced in the United States uses this DSF gypsum. The process allows manufacturers to locate plants closer to population centers where most of their product is used, reducing shipping costs. The gypsum produced in this manner is extremely pure. Prior to reclamation efforts of DSF gypsum, most of the product was stored or sent to landfills. However, this product must be tested for radon levels before it can be used.

As a soil amendment, gypsum offers several advantages. It increases the calcium levels in the soil to improve crop growth. It prevents compacting of soil, allowing the farmer to practice no-till farming. Gypsum increases the ability of rainfall or irrigation waters to penetrate to the crop's root zone.