What is Alabaster? 3 Different Types and What It’s Used For

This is a guide covering everything you need to know about alabaster.

We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):

What is Alabaster?

Alabaster is known as calcite mineral or hard-medium gypsum, which is usually translucent and white and has uniformed fine grain.

You can see the fine small natural grain of the stone when Alabaster is put up to the light. Alabaster can be dyed in several colors because it is a porous mineral. 

Historians believed that Michelangelo’s sculptures were carved from Alabaster because of their smooth texture and white color.

Other structures like the Pyramids of Egypt are made of a combination of translucent and hard Alabaster minerals.

alabaster example

Types of Alabaster

1. Calcite Alabaster

Calcite alabaster is usually a little hard than gypsum, and it was used in Egypt and the Middle East, but it is still in use.

It is found from the walls of caverns limestone or stalagmite deposit from the floor.

2. Gypsum Alabaster

Gypsum alabaster was used in Medieval Europe in the past and modern times, too, and it is softer than calcite alabaster.

3. Black Alabaster

Black Alabaster is rare and is found usually in three places in the world: China, Italy, and the United States. It is a rare mineral, and its origin is gypsum-based.

Uses of Alabaster

There are different and popular ways in which Alabaster is used like:

1. Bathroom Accessories

Alabaster is widely used in bathroom accessories. The reason for its high use in wet conditions is because it is highly waterproof.

2. Furniture Materials

Alabaster is also widely used in furniture manufacturing, and people usually place a light inside the furniture to show how beautiful Alabaster looks in the light.

3. Sculptures

Alabaster is also believed to be used in famous ancient sculptures like Egypt’s pyramids and other historical buildings.

sculpture alabaster
alabaster sculpture

What is Alabaster Made Up Of?

Alabaster is made up of different alabaster minerals, but it has one primary mineral in it.

Alabaster is made up of grained-fine form gypsum mineral known as calcium sulfate.

As the result of different impurities in the gypsum mineral, the stone takes a beautiful shape and cream color, which has used to be known as Alabaster.

 It is also composed of white marble, known as calcite. They both formed geographically under high temperature and pressure because these are metamorphic rocks.

Alabaster is sometimes confused with soapstone (Steatite), an easily polished soft stone.

soapstone example

How Can You Know Alabaster is Real or Not?

There can be many ways in which we can identify about the alabaster is real or not.

1. Glow

The glow of real alabaster is different from all.

2. Weight and Thickness

The next thing to look out for is the weight and thickness of the alabaster. The real alabaster has twice the weight as the fake imitations, and it is 3/8 inch thick minimum.

3. Veins

The veins are random and both dark and translucent. If you see two different pieces with the same pattern of veins in the exact location, they are not genuine.

It is always better to do some research before actually buying alabaster.

There is a big difference between what you see in a picture on the internet or magazine than from the actual product.

So, you have to first search out the properties of the original alabaster from the internet or somewhere else, then buy the product.

What is the Difference Between Marble and Alabaster?

There are many differences between marble and alabaster.

  1. Alabaster refers to two types of calcium. In old times, calcite alabaster was widely used in Egypt, but in modern times, gypsum alabaster has taken the place of it while marble has the presence of impurities that change its color and is made up of metamorphic rocks.
  2. Marble can be heavily polished as compared to alabaster.
  3. Alabaster rock usually comes in white color, but the pale brown and reddish color also exits while marble comes in pink, green, black, white, and gray colors.
  4. Alabaster rock is more translucent than marble.
  5. Marble word is derived from the Greek marmaron while Alabaster word is taken from old French alabaster.

To further explore more about alabaster, we also recommend this video:

Final Remarks

Alabaster rock is widely used in almost every part of the world. It adds beauty to our products and provides them with a shiny look.

And one cannot neglect the importance of this essential material. It has unique properties that make it easy to use according to our choice to enhance the attractiveness and beauty of the materials.


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