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Because talcs and steatites are both hydrated magnesium silicates, they cannot be distinguished chemically; however, talcs appear to differ from steatites by their coarser grain size. X-ray powder diffraction patterns of talcs also show more intense basal (00l) reflections than steatites. Coarse-grained talcs appear to be less suitable than steatites for the fabrication of ceramic bodies that are shaped by dry pressing because the coarse grains tend to orient during the forming process, causing higher shear stresses during firing. Steatites are more suitable than talcs in these applications because their finer grain sizes facilitate random rather than parallel particle orientation. Because steatite rocks may display different crystal size and technical properties, these parameters must be carefully considered when selecting suitable ceramic raw materials.

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