Langbeinite Gemstone: Uses, Properties, Meaning & Value

langbeinite gemstoneLangbeinite (layng-bai-nite) is a fairly rare mineral sometimes cut as a gemstone for collectors. It’s commonly colorless to white, often with undertones of other colors like pink, yellow, or violet. 

The mineral is more commonly used in other industries, particularly agriculture. Plus, it only comes from a few locales worldwide. Today, the USA is the most significant producer of langbeinite.

So, what contains langbeinite? And what makes it so special? Stay tuned for a comprehensive guide on langbeinite’s properties, uses, healing properties, and more!

langbeinite gemstoneImage credit: Pekov, I.V.; Sandalov, F.D.; Koshlyakova, N.N.; Vigasina, M.F.; Polekhovsky, Y.S.; Britvin, S.N.; Sidorov, E.G.; Turchkova, A.G.

What Is Langbeinite?

Though rarely used as one, langbeinite can be a semi-precious gemstone. What is langbeinite made of? High amounts of potassium, magnesium, and sulfur. 

The main components of langbeinite have led to nicknames like “K-Mag” and “Sul-Po-Mag,” though both are technically brand names. The products produced by these brands relate to langbeinite’s various applications. 

Langbeinite in Agriculture

The most common use of langbeinite is in agriculture and gardening. 

Langbeinite is a beneficial potash, a term generally used for potassium-rich salts, though it had broader definitions historically (more on that later!). Materials (like langbeinite) that are used for potash must have water-soluble potassium.

Potash is beneficial for agriculture because it allows plants to hold more water, helps more plants grow to fruition, and improves their quality for eating. The potassium also makes langbeinite useful for flowering because it helps the plant keep pests away.

What makes langbeinite unique?

Most potash materials only supply potassium, but langbeinite kicks it up a notch by also providing magnesium and sulfur. All three elements are important plant nutrients and having a mineral that has them all makes distributing these nutrients evenly throughout crops even easier. 

Additionally, many magnesium fertilizers change the soil’s pH levels, but langbeinite doesn’t. Lastly, the mineral’s chlorine content is under 3 percent, so it’s less likely to cause fertilizer burn (damage from over-fertilizing).

Overall, knowing when to use langbeinite comes down to knowing if the plants need lots of fertilization but are sensitive to chloride. 

Other Langbeinite Uses

Are there any other langbeinite uses? There sure are! Some other ways people use the mineral include:

  • Compost Tea. Small amounts of langbeinite in compost tea (⅛ teaspoon to 2 gallons of water) can improve plant fertility and provide helpful bacteria, particularly in cannabis plants.

  • Ore. Langbeinite is a minor source of potassium. 

Next, let’s discuss the langbeinite mineral properties!

Langbeinite Specifications & Characteristics

As an individual mineral, langbeinite is a potassium magnesium sulfate with the formula K₂Mg₂(SO₄)₃. It can form as individual crystals, but these are rare and always tiny. 

Most often, you’ll find langbeinite as granular masses, nodules, or grains distributed throughout a host rock. Massive langbeinites can sometimes be mistaken for chalcedony with a granular texture.

Langbeinite is almost always pale in color. It can be colorless, but it’s usually a light pink. It can also have undertones in yellow, green, violet, or gray. Most colors are due to iron oxide impurities. 

Phosphorescence is also present in the stone, meaning it holds a glow for a longer period after the excitation source (e.g. UV light) goes away.

Check out all the langbeinite mineral data below:

  • Mineral family: Sulfates

  • Mohs hardness: 3.5-4

  • Color: Colorless, white, light shades of pink, yellow, gray, green, or violet

  • Crystal structure: Isometric (cubic) – tetartoidal class; Tetrahedral shape

  • Luster: Vitreous (glassy), greasy, or pearly

  • Transparency: Transparent to translucent

  • Refractive index: 1.53

  • Density: 2.81-2.86

  • Cleavage: None

  • Fracture: Conchoidal or irregular

  • Streak: White

  • Luminescence: Fluorescence present in New Mexico material - Weak greenish-white in LW-UV; Phosphorescence - Greenish-white

Langbeinite Mineral Family

Besides being its own mineral, langbeinite also lends its name to a group of substances with the same internal crystal structure but varied formulas. 

Some minerals in the langbeinite family are:

  • Efremovite — ammonium sulfate

  • Manganolangbeinite — manganese potassium sulfate

  • Calciolangbeinite — calcium potassium sulfate

  • Ferrofremovite — iron potassium sulfate

These crystals, along with langbeinite itself, possess some fascinating properties. 

For one, all langbeinite crystals are piezoelectric, meaning they produce an electrical charge under mechanical stress — a.k.a. pressure and latent heat (thermal energy exchanged without changing the object’s temperature). 

Many langbeinite crystals are also ferroelectric (having a spontaneous but reversible electric polarization) or ferroelastic (having a change in crystal structure or shape from mechanical stress).

langbeinite gemstone raw crystals Image credit: Pekov, I.V.; Sandalov, F.D.; Koshlyakova, N.N.; Vigasina, M.F.; Polekhovsky, Y.S.; Britvin, S.N.; Sidorov, E.G.; Turchkova, A.G.

Langbeinite Meaning & History

Since it’s not a well-known or popular gem, langbeinite doesn’t have many metaphysical associations. However, one can interpret its fertilizing nature as representing greater potential, adjusting to changing circumstances, and of course, personal growth!

Speaking of change, remember when we said the definition of “potash” changed over time? Well, it started in the Netherlands back in the 1400s! 

The word “potash” comes from potaschen in Middle Dutch, the dialect spoken from 1100 to 1500 AD. The word potaschen is from 1477 AD and means “pot ash.” 

Before the Industrial Era began in 1760, people would burn wood to ash, then put the ashes in water inside a metal pot. The water extracted certain materials from the ash in a process called leaching. At the end, the pot had a white residue dubbed “pot ash.” Pretty straightforward, right?

Fun fact: British inventor Humphry Davy discovered and named the element potassium in 1807 after he ran electricity through wet potash and noticed metallic spheres (of potassium) forming and breaking off. 

Now, what about langbeinite’s history?

History of Langbeinite

In 1873, Dr. H. Warth first discovered langbeinite in Pakistan at the Mayo Salt Mine (now better known as the Khewra Salt Mine). The mine is renowned for producing a pink salt sold as “Himalayan salt.” 

Warth was a British mining engineer who helped establish the mine, as Pakistan was under British rule at the time. Warth was there helping collect Salt Range minerals for the Geological Survey of India (GSI) to display at the Vienna Exhibition that year.

Langbeinite’s first chemical analysis came from A. Tween, a member of the GSI. Tween published his description in a catalog accompanying the collection at the exhibition.

In 1897, Tween’s fellow GSI member, Irish geologist Frederick Mallet, made changes to Tween’s chemical breakdown. However, neither man realized that it was a double-salt. 

Eventually, one man did realize the true composition of this yet-unknown mineral: German scientist S. Zuckschwerdt. 

Zuckschwerdt studied langbeinite found in potash material from Halberstadt, Germany. He published his findings in 1891 and named the mineral “langbeinite” after the German chemist August Langbein.

Decades later in 1933, Poland started producing and selling langbeinite. Calling it “Kalimag,” they marketed it as a fertilizer for magnesium-deficient plants like tobacco and fruits. The New Mexico, USA, langbeinite mine started in 1940, eventually becoming the most significant langbeinite source.

Let’s move on from history to healing as we go over langbeinite’s metaphysical abilities!

langbeinite gemstone rough specimenImage credit: John Krygier

Langbeinite Healing Properties

It may not be an abundant gemstone, but langbeinite can still be used as a healing stone

Since it’s most commonly colorless to white, the langbeinite crystal joins other white gemstones in promoting greater awareness, clearing confusion, and assisting with transformative processes. 

They’re also excellent chakra stones for the highest center of spirituality: your crown chakra! Meanwhile, pinkish or greenish langbeinite opens the heart chakra.

What is langbeinite good for in terms of physical and emotional healing? 

Physical Healing

Langbeinite is believed to speed up the healing process, aiding in the treatment of both external and internal wounds. As a sulfate, it may also provide pain relief and reduce swelling or fatigue. 

Emotional Healing

Like other sulfate gemstones, langbeinite benefits can include calming impatience or fiery tempers with its calming, positive vibrations.  Crystal healers recommend langbeinite for enhancing your best personality traits. 

Langbeinite Gemstone Properties

Experts typically judge gemstones by their specific value factors (or gemstone properties), like color, cut, and clarity. However, langbeinite is so rarely produced for ornamental use, that it doesn’t have any established grading. 

That said, we’ll list some standard gemstone properties and how they apply to langbeinite:

  • Color: Most are white to pink.

  • Cut: It’s sometimes cut as a cabochon, but otherwise sold as a rough specimen.

  • Clarity: Langbeinite may contain multi-phase fluid inclusions, but crystals are generally transparent to translucent with few visible inclusions.

  • Carat Weight: Colorless cut stones can be 10-15 cts. 

Going from gemology to geology now, how does langbeinite form? 

langbeinite gemstone rough museum specimenImage credit: Andrew Butko

Langbeinite Formation & Sources

Langbeinite is an evaporite mineral, meaning it comes from salty sedimentary deposits created when water evaporates. Evaporite deposits are usually billions of years old, and langbeinite formed around 250-290 million years ago. 

Most langbeinites come from ancient marine evaporite deposits, or places where most or all of the seawater (or lakewater) evaporated. The process left behind saline minerals (also called soluble evaporites) like langbeinite.

However, some langbeinite can form when other minerals transform. In Germany, some langbeinite minerals form when magnesium sulfate and potassium chloride react.

Speaking of specific locales, where does langbeinite come from? 

Mining Locations

Only a few locations worldwide produce langbeinite. Currently, the most significant source is the range of unique salt deposits in New Mexico and Texas, USA. These deposit beds can reach 7 feet in thickness!

The other locales are:

  • Austria

  • Belarus

  • Canada

  • England

  • Germany

  • India

With rarity in mind, how much does langbeinite cost?

Langbeinite Price & Value

Almost all the products you’ll see for langbeinite are related to fertilizing. Typically sound in 5-lb (around 2.3-kg) bags, these are almost always $18-$25 each.

Rough langbeinite specimens start at $20, but they’re more often $75 to $100. 

Langbeinite Care and Maintenance

Taking care of gemstones like langbeinite requires gentleness and knowledge. Langbeinite’s solubility in water means it will slowly dissolve if submerged.

To clean langbeinite without dissolving it, simply wipe it with a soft, dry, non-abrasive cloth that’s dust-free. Store it separately from other minerals or gems.

There Are No Limits with Langbeinite!

The knowledge surrounding langbeinite may be more prevalent in some professions than others, but that doesn’t make it less special. Are you a loving plant parent and a mineral enthusiast, you and your foliage friends can soak up all the benefits of langbeinite today!

Browse beautiful gems and minerals today!

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