Mineral Saponite (Saponite clay)

Saponite (from the Latin sapo, Genitive saponis — soap) is a soapstone, a mineral from subclass of layered silicates, group of montmorillonites; the chemical composition is NaMg3[AlSi3O10] (OH)2.4H2O. As isomorphic admixture it contains Fe, sometimes Cr, as well as Ni, Zn, Cu, Li and other components. It crystallizes in monoclinic system.

Saponite is a unique mineral belonging to bentonite type with high content of magnesium (up to 12%) and it represents a new type of mineral raw materials which can be used in different branches of industry. The first worldwide known ultimate deposit of saponite was discovered in Ukraine (Khmelnitskiy region) with industrial reserves in the area totaling over 34 million tons. There is no information about how big saponite deposits in other countries of the world.    

Saponite is a natural sorbent with high adsorptive ion-exchange, catalytic and filtration characteristics.

The range of application of saponite is as follows:

-        Manufacture of complex mineral supplement to feed-stuff;

-        To improve efficiency of fattering cattle, pigs, fowl and other animals;

-        Crop yield boost of corn, winter wheat, sugar beet;

-        Detoxification of grounds polluted in result of technogeneous disasters or radiation; 

-        Removal of heavy metal salts and radionuclides from milk, milk products and other liquid food stuff ;

-        Production of light porous fillers, etc.


However, the range of saponite application is not limited by the examples above but according to recommendations of scientific and manufacturing companies saponite is also used as high efficiency agent as:

-        Complex action ameliorator for sabulous and turf-podzolic soils;

-        Natural soil deoxidizer;

-        Natural preservative for feeding-stuff;

-        Agent for increasing storage time of roots;

-        Natural preservative for wet corn grains, wheat, barley, etc;

-        Natural mineral extra nutrition for cattle and fowl;

-        Medicinal substance;

-        Raw material for pelletizing iron ore concentrates;

-        Agent which absorbs radionuclides in animals, plants etc.

Saponites (saponite clays) are unique natural fossil minerals (manganese montmorrilonites)  with high content of MgO in which Al3+ is almost completely replaced by Mg2+ and Si4+ partially by Al3+. 


Application of Saponite Clays

Saponite as a Natural Mineral Supplement


Experiments conducted in conditions of industrial pig fattening with mixed fodder within 112 days period showed that adding natural saponite in proportion of 15g per 1 fodder unit results in additional liveweight gain of 29.3%.

— Experiments on adding 250g of saponite a day during silage and pulp fattening of young cattle within 115 days showed a stable average daily weight gain by 11.4% comparing to the test group;

— The Crimean Ukrainian R&D Insitute of Poultry Farming proved that substitution of 4-6% of mixed fodder for saponite increased the liveweight of broiler chicken by 5%, rose fowl safety and reduced fodder amount used by 4% per 1kg of the gain.

— The research done showed the absence of any toxic impact of saponite on animals and fowl, and the fact that useful micro- and ultramicroelements present in saponite are well assimilated by living organisms, favor the increase of the haemoglobin level in blood, improve the nitrogen usage coefficient.

— The meat of the test animals has been studied in the scientific and sanitary center of the Health Ministry of Ukraine, where the safety of its using in food by people has been proved.


Complex Supplements to Animal Feed on the Basis of Saponite

Ukrainian Institute of Food Stuff has developed the recipe and technical specifications for «Integrated fodder additive made on the basis of saponite» TU-113-08-4-07-90 for fattening brand A pigs and brand B cattle.

The technical specifications for «Saponite Powder for livestock and aviculture» TU-46-15.GO.014-96 have been also developed and approved.


The Veterinarian Council of the former USSR approved «Temporary Recommendations on Using Saponite in Feeding Broiler Chickens»


           The invention «The Way of Getting Foodstuff for Pigs» has been registered which can be used by veterinary rendering plants for production of foodstuff on the basis of saponite out of meat and bone powder.


A copyright certificate has been registered for the invention «Mineral Supplement for Cud-Chewing Animals». The supplement includes 59% of saponite powder and increases the liveweight gain of animals by 6-9%.



Food Stuff Preservatives Based on Saponite

Natural saponite as well as combinations of saponite, phosphoric acid and ammonia have proven to be an effective preservative for different food stuff, particularly sugar pulp, green forage, alfalfa, etc.

The invention «Methods of Foodstuff Silage» has been registered, where saponite is used as one of the main preservatives.

Saponite significantly reduces the loss in storage of roots (copyright certificate). Usage of 0.3-0.6 tons per 1 ton of beet root ensures its conservation at the level not less than 90%, when 40% of roots is damaged.


Saponite is a Complex Action Ameliorator

High efficiency of saponite as ameliorator for sandy and turf-podzolic soils has been confirmed by the Ukrainian R&D Institute of Agriculture. It was determined during field experiments that crops of maize, barley, winter wheat had risen by 12-45% and more.

The greatest effect is achieved when saponite and mineral fertilizers are added into unfertilized soil in the amount of 0.5-0.65% of the soil mass, which is 15-20 t/ha. Meanwhile, the effect of saponite in the soil is kept steadily even in the fifth year after its application into the soil, while application of the same dozes of manure is effective for only one season.

Application of saponite clays in sandy and sabulous soil can be justified by the following:


a) sandy soil is characterized by the lack of magnesium, whereas its content in saponite ranges from 9 to 11% (magnesium oxide);

b) saponite clays are natural ameliorants. The overall neutralizing capacity of saponite is 25%;

c) one ton of saponite contains from 10 to 20 kg of potassium oxide K2O – potash fertilizer – which is absolutely necessary for application into degraded and leached black soils, turf-podzol, light sandy, loamy-sandy and peat-bog soils in the amount of 45-60 kg/ha. Saponite is a very effective ameliorant for cultures with increased demand for potash (sugar beet, potatoes, sunflower, flax, fodder root crops, legumes, vegetable, and fruit and berry crops, perennial grasses, etc.).

Application of the saponite powder in the calculated amounts increases the content of an active mineral fraction having pronounced ion-exchange characteristics. With the growth of the soil absorption capacity its nutrient status improves significantly due to the increase in the number of metathetical, agile, and digestible by plants elements.

Especially in the second and third years it results in the more considerable accumulation of agile potassium and magnesium in the soil if to compare with dolomite powder. In light soils this fact contributes to the considerable rise in their fertility.

Saponite contains very scarce elements for sandy soils such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, boron, and others.

Their percentage except for magnesium is relatively low, however, when saponite is applied in the calculated amounts a considerable amount of the said elements gets into the soil in an easily accessible form and this is undoubtedly important for their balance improvement in farming.


Saponite is an Effective Soil Deoxidizer

Saponite is such and even rather more effective soil deoxidizer as commonly used lime powder.

After adding into soil, saponite’s efficiency as an ameliorator increases from year to year resulting in crop boost. Researchers have proved that saponite retains its effectiveness for a long time after its application into turf-podzolic soil.


During the field experiment performed in the sandy soil of Varvarovka village of Slavutskiy district of Khmelnitskiy region, where maize was grown for silage in 1989 (the first year of saponite application) the crop increase amounted to 45% in comparison with the test and in spite of the lack of moisture during the season.

In the second year on the same land plot winter wheat crop increase amounted to 27% in comparison with the test, though, as everyone knows, winter wheat is almost not grown in sandy acidic soil. In this case saponite provided for optimum reaction of the soil solution close to neutral pH – 6.5-7.0

It is significant that the application of saponite together with mineral fertilizers exceeds the efficiency of lime almost in two times in the second year after its application into the soil. Saponite is subject to grinding before using as ameliorator, i.e. as other known ameliorators (lime and dolomite powder) and it is applied by sieving on the surface of the soil with further filling-up and agitation with soil mass.


Reclaiming the Soil Polluted by Radionuclides


When light sabulous soil is covered with a layer of saponite of 5 cm then the penetration of cesium 137 radionuclides in the crop is significally reduced to the content of the radionuclide which is below detector’s receptiveness.


Application of 5 g of saponite per 1 kg of soil will increase the removal of beta radionuclides (strontium-90) from plant biomass in two times or more.


The laboratory of radio-ecological biosystem safety of the Institute of Botany of the Academy of Science of Ukraine has established that saponite is an effective means for reclaiming the soil polluted by radionuclides.

It is expedient to exploit an important characteristic of saponite clays to raise the capacity of the cation exchange and moisture of the soil refined as well as in the manufacturing of ecologically pure products.


Other work has been also performed related to the use of saponite for detoxification of technogenic soil.


Saponite Use in Medicine

Kiev Medical Advanced Training Institute has tested and confirmed that saponite can be used as the main component of different sorbent agents used for removal of salts of heavy metals, radionuclides and pathogenic micro-organisms (viruses of poliomyelitis, hepatitis A, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus, etc.) from the human body.

Medicinal and prophylactic properties of foods (bread, confectionery) with supplement of saponite have been also confirmed.

Food with supplement of saponite is effective in cases of intoxication of alkaline-earth heavy metals.

Recommendations have been made for the use of saponite as enterosorbent in case of bacterial and viral enteric diseases. Effectiveness of the saponite as enterosorbent is higher compared with activated carbon, which has harmful effect on mucosa of gastrointestinal tract and contains such contaminants as benzo-a-pyrene and dioxins.


Saponite granules are oval, soft and absolutely free of toxic substances.

The results of preliminary research show encouraging prospective of saponite use in the treatment of many diseases connected with metabolic disorder such as arthrosis and some other.


Short Description of the Varvarovskiy Saponite Deposit


The Varvarovskiy saponite clay deposit is unique for its minor occurrence depth (Tashkovskiy area – from 0 m up to 10.2 m, average – 5.75 m; Varvarovskiy area — from 4.9 m up to 33.2 m, average – 19.09 m). The deposit is also characterized by significant bed thickness (Tashkovskiy area – 9.0 — 31.0 m, average – 20.0 m; Varvarovsky area – 11.0 — 26.6 m, average – 18.8 m).

Total explored estimated reserves of the deposit exceed 34 mln tons, whereas some experts say they reach 100 mln tons.

 The State Commission of Reserves of Ukraine has approved and issued the approvals for 34.6 mln tons of saponite reserves for mining. The deposit is recognized as the world’s largest one and very accessible for its development.

For comparison, a famous deposit of sepiolite (a mineral with very similar to saponite characteristics) which has been developed since late 1950s and owned by TOLSA GROUP Company (Spain) is characterized by an average occurrence depth exceeding 30m, and bed thickness of 1.5 – 2.5m. Moreover, TOLSA GROUP Company has been a highly profitable enterprise up to now.

During geological research and pilot development approximately 10,000 tons of raw material (saponite clay) were extracted from Tashkovskiy area. That is why this area is completely ready for industrial development.

 At the same time a very small amount of saponite clay was taken from Varvarovskiy area for geological research due to significant average occurrence depth in the latter location.


The Physical and Chemical Properties of Saponite Clay:


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Class of rock acc to GSN D 2.2-1-99 on complexity of mining




12.11.2016, 948 просмотров.