You might not know it but you are surrounded by gypsum every day of your life - it’s in the wallboard in our homes, schools and virtually all buildings.

Gypsum has been mined in Nova Scotia for over 200 years and the province has traditionally been one of the world’s largest suppliers of this essential building material.

Here is everything you ever wanted to know about … GYPSUM!

FAST FACTS!

  • Gypsum has been mined in Nova Scotia for over 200 years and the province has traditionally been one of the world’s largest suppliers of gypsum.
  • Gypsum’s main use is as an ingredient in wallboard, or drywall.
  • At the world’s largest surface gypsum mine in Milford, Nova Scotia, the bones of two different mastodons were discovered in 1991 and 1993. Mastodons first appeared in Africa some 40 million years ago and first came to the North American continent 14 million years ago. They became extinct 10,000 years ago.
  • One of the main reasons gypsum is used in wallboard is that it contains a significant amount of water at the molecular level and is therefore fire resistant. One hundred pounds of gypsum rock contains approximately 21 pounds (or 10 quarts) of water.
  • Because gypsum is fire resistant, in 1667, one year after the Great Fire of London, King Louis XIV of France issued an edict requiring that a coating of gypsum be placed on the interior and exterior of buildings to reduce the chance of fire spreading.
  • Gypsum has been a key ingredient in the building of homes and other buildings for thousands of years. Archeologists have found traces of gypsum on walls dating back to 9000 B.C. in Anatolia, Turkey. Gypsum was also used in ancient Egypt, including on the pyramid of Kheops, which was constructed in 2700 B.C., and is the only surviving wonder of the ancient world (thanks, in part, to gypsum!).
  • More than 21 billion square-feet of wallboard are shipped each year in the United States and Canada. To put that quantity in perspective, consider this: If the yearly production of wallboard was placed end-to-end in a four-foot wide strip, it would circle the earth’s equator nearly 40 times.
  • Alabaster is a form of gypsum used both in building and as a decorative material. In the 18th century, the French chemist Lavoisier began modern research on gypsum by studying its chemical properties. Large deposits of gypsum were discovered near Paris, and “Plaster of Paris” became a popular building material.
  • French farmers also used natural gypsum as a soil additive to improve crop yields. Benjamin Franklin, an inventor and founding father of the United States, brought this idea to America.

The pyramid of Kheops, built in 2700 B.C., was partly built with gypsum.

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