The key difference between mica and pigment is that mica powder is shiny and gives a metallic or sparkling pearl-like effect, whereas pigment powder has a matte finish.
The terms mica and pigment are often discussed under the powder industry, where they are used in beauty products, healthcare products such as lotions and soaps, art supplies, etc.
What is Mica
Mica is a mineral having an outstanding ability to split mica crystals into extremely thin elastic plates. We can name this characteristic feature as the perfect basal cleavage.
Generally, mica crystals are common in igneous and metamorphic rocks. Occasionally, we can find this material in sedimentary rocks as small flakes. This material is particularly prominent in granite types, pegmatites, and schists. Mica comes under phyllosilicates. The color of this material can range from purple, rosy, silver to colorless or transparent appearance. The cleavage of this material is almost perfect, and the fracture is flaky. This mineral has a pearly, vitreous luster and white to colorless streak color.
There are about 37 members of the mica group of minerals. All these forms of minerals tend to crystallize in the monoclinic system, and they have the tendency to form pseudohexagonal crystals. Generally, mica is a translucent material having a distinct vitreous or pearly luster. The deposits of this mineral typically have a flaky or platy appearance.
Properties of sheets of mica crystals include chemical inertness, dielectric nature, elasticity, flexibility, hydrophilic nature, insulating properties, lightweight, refractive nature, etc. Due to these various properties, there are many different uses of mica.
What is Pigment?
Pigment powder is a type of ground-up color and appears as powdered chalk. This material shows different colors because of its ability to selectively absorb the wavelength of light. Although many materials we know have this ability, pigments have a high tinting strength, so even a small amount of the powder is enough to show the color when the powder is used on objects or mixed with a carrier.
At early times, pigments came from natural sources such as charcoal and powdered minerals. Concerning the synthetic forms of pigments, the most common pigments were white lead pigments made by mixing lead and vinegar in the presence of CO2 gas. Another common synthetic pigment form was Egyptian blue pigment (which contains calcium copper silicate) which came from glass that is colored using malachite copper ore.
Some examples of metallic pigments include cadmium pigment, chromium pigment, copper pigment, iron oxide pigment, lead pigment, manganese pigment, mercury pigment, titanium pigment, etc. Some common inorganic pigment forms include carbon pigments, clay earth, ultramarine pigments, etc.
What is the Difference Between Mica and Pigment?
Mica and pigments are useful as powdered materials. Mica is a mineral having an outstanding ability to split mica crystals into extremely thin elastic plates while pigment powder is a type of ground-up color and appears as powdered chalk. The key difference between mica and pigment is that mica powder is shiny and gives a metallic or sparkling pearl-like effect whereas pigment powder has a matte finish.
Below is a summary of the difference between mica and pigment in tabular form.
Summary – Mica vs Pigment
Mica and pigments are useful as powdered materials. The key difference between mica and pigment is that mica powder is shiny and gives a metallic or sparkling pearl-like effect, whereas pigment powder has a matte finish.
1. Helmenstine, Anne Marie. “Pigment Definition and Chemistry.” ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Available here.
1. “Mica (6911818878)” By Pascal Terjan from London, United Kingdom – MicaUploaded by Magnus Manske (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Cadmiumorange- Pigment” By Marco Almbauer – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia