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Most people are familiar with the mineral known as "talc". It can be crushed into a white powder that is widely known as "talcum powder." This powder has the ability to absorb moisture, absorb oils, absorb odour, serve as a lubricant, and produce an astringent effect with human skin. These properties have made talcum powder an important ingredient in many baby powders, foot powders, first aid powders, and a variety of cosmetics. A form of talc known as "soapstone" is also widely known. This soft rock is easily carved and has been used to make ornamental and practical objects for thousands of years. It has been used to make sculptures, bowls, countertops, sinks, hearths, pipe bowls, and many other objects. Although talcum powder and soapstone are two of the more visible uses of talc, they account for a very small fraction of talc consumption. Its hidden uses are far more common. Talc's unique properties make it an important ingredient for making ceramics, paint, paper, roofing materials, plastics, rubber, insecticides, and many other products.

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