Silica vs Quartz
Silicon is the element with atomic number 14, and it is also in the group 14 of the periodic table just below carbon. It is shown by the symbol Si. Its electron configuration is 1s2 2s2 2p6 3s2 3p2. Silicon can remove four electrons and form a +4 charged cation, or it can share these electrons to form four covalent bonds. . It exists very rarely as pure silicon in nature. Mainly, it occurs as the oxide or silicate. Silica is the oxide form of silicon.
Silicon exists as its oxide in nature. Silica is the most common silicon oxide, with the molecular formula SiO2 (silicon dioxide). Silica is an abundant mineral on the earth crust, and it is in sand, quartz and many other minerals. Some minerals have pure silica but, in some, silica are mixed with other elements. In Silica, the sulfur and oxygen atoms joined by covalent bonds to form a huge crystal structure. Each sulfur atom is surrounded by four oxygen atoms (tetrahedrally). Silica doesn’t conduct electricity because there aren’t any delocalized electrons. Further, it is highly thermo stabilized. Silica has a very high melting point, because a large number of sulfur-oxygen bonds have to be broken in order to melt it. When it is given very high temperatures and cooled at a certain rate, the melted silica will solidify to form glass. Silica doesn’t react with any acid except hydrogen fluoride. Moreover, it is not soluble in water or any organic solvent. Silicon is commercially prepared by using silica in an electric arc furnace.
Not only silica is abundant on the earth crust, but it is also present inside our bodies in considerable amounts. Silica is needed for healthy maintenance of bones, cartilages, nails, tendons, teeth, skin, blood vessels, etc. It is naturally present in water, carrot, bread, cornflakes, white rice, banana, raisin, etc. Also, silica is widely used in ceramic, glass and cement industries.
Quartz is the mineral that contains silicon dioxide (SiO2) mainly. Quartz has a unique crystalline structure with helix chains of silicon tetrahedrons. This is the second most abundant mineral on the earth surface and has a wide distribution. Quartz is a component of all three types of metamorphic, igneous and sedimentary rocks. Quartz can vary from one place to another by their color, transparency, the amount of silicon dioxide, size, constituents, etc. They can be colorless, pink, red, black, blue, orange, brown, yellow, and purple colored. Some of the quartz minerals can be transparent, whereas some can be translucent. Citrine, amethyst, milky quartz, rock crystal, rose quartz, smoky quartz and prasiolite are some of the large crystal forming quartz types. Quartz is mostly found in Brazil, Mexico, Russia, etc. There are significant morphological differences in different quartz minerals; therefore, they are used as ornamental rocks. It is considered as a semiprecious stone and used in jewellery making. Further, quartz is used for ceramics and cements due to its high thermal and chemical stability.
What is the difference between Silica and Quartz?
• Silicon dioxide is known as silica and silica is found in quartz.
• There can be other impurities incorporated in quartz, but it has a high percentage of silica. Silica mainly consists of silicon dioxide only.