Green bottles on assembly line, coloured with iron chromite

Iron Chromite – Applications and General Uses

Iron chromite is an inorganic mineral compound that is essential to several industries. It is often called chrome flour, chromite powder, or chromite flour. The chemical composition of is FeCr2O4. This compound is preferred for many industrial applications because of its high-heat stability, resistance to thermal shock, and resistance to corrosive gasses and slags.

Chromite powder isn’t just used to make industrial materials. You can find many products of chromite flour around your home. Stainless steel dinnerware, wine or beer bottles, ceramic décor, bricks, cement, and more require chromite powder at some point during their manufacturing processes. It can improve the quality of certain items, change the appearance of others, and make production safer for those involved.

Below are some of the most common applications. You’ll find that most if not all of these uses contribute to your life in one way or another, making this material a vital mineral all over the world.

Pouring molten material into refractory moulds made with iron chromite

Kilns and Furnaces

Iron Chromite is essential to the production of refractory materials like bricks and cement. Because they are used in high-temperature environments like kilns and furnaces, these materials have to be able to withstand repeated exposure to extreme heat and cooling. The chromite powder used in manufacturing refractory bricks and cement provides the necessary thermal resistance to avoid cracking.

If the refractory materials were to crack or wear down prematurely during the repeated heating and cooling processes, they could cause a loss of heat that would drive production costs through the roof in a best case scenario. A worse case could involve a loss of inventory due to inadequate temperature control. In some cases, damaged refractory materials could cause a dangerous release of heat and pressure from within the furnace.

Various industries rely on the stability of this material in refractory applications. The production, processing, and purification of metals requires a metallurgy furnace. Recycling of steel and iron is done in an electric arc furnace. Cement is created in rotary kilns, and there are a few different furnace types that can be used to make glass. Each of these kilns and furnaces requires refractory materials.

Architecture and Interior Design

Chrome flour creates beautiful shades in both interior and exterior building materials. The versatile range from dark charcoal to a cloudy, off-white grey provides gorgeous contemporary, natural, and rustic looks

Clay bricks, paving units, and roof tiles can be made in various shades of grey by adding chromite powder to ivory filling clays during production. These hues have become increasingly popular in recent years in architecture and in the construction of both residential and commercial properties.

This range of greys is also applied to ceramics through the use of chromite powder. The desired colour can be created in the ceramic itself or as a glaze. Grey ceramics are in high demand as popular flooring materials. Plain ceramic tiles, as well as ceramic tiles made to resemble natural stone and wood, are made using this material.

Brick wall colour made using chrome flour

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is used in everything from dinnerware and jewellery to surgical instruments and tools. Most of us encounter and utilize stainless steel products as we go about our day. You might even enjoy the look of stainless steel appliances in your kitchen. Stainless steel is not only attractive and nonporous, but is also resistant to rust and corrosion that can affect alternative metals. It’s strong, hygienic, relatively easy to fabricate, and depending on the grade, can be resistant to high and low temperatures.

Production of stainless steel requires hours of extreme heat application. During this process, chromite powder is used as part of a compound that prevents the molten metal from settling in the furnace’s tap hole and solidifying. Blockage of a tap hole will cost time and other resources to remedy and could cause violent and dangerous expulsions of pressure during release. This material's extreme heat tolerance helps maintain both efficiency and safety during the stainless steel production process.

Various coloured bottles green brown and yellow some made with chrome flour

Knives and Blades

Green compound is a substance applied to pieces of leather or cloth that are used to polish the blades of various cutting tools and optical devices. This compound can also be used in powder form and hones the tools’ edges to a mirror polish. Polishing with this method sharpens better than using a stone or other sharpening device alone.

Pigment

The high stability makes it very useful as a pigment in paints, inks, and coloured glass. Chrome flour provides consistent, uniform colouration throughout the chosen material and is preferred for its rich pigmentation. In paints and inks, it can be used alone or combined with various compounds to create specific shades.
It is used to make both oxidised and reduced green glass containers. Many of these containers also use iron pyrite in order to alter the colour and provide more powerful protection from ultraviolet radiation.
The colours made from iron chromite include:

• Emerald
• Georgia
• Deadleaf
• Dark Olive
• Champagne
• UV
• Antique

UV protection in glass containers is an essential factor for many industries. Some oils and beverages are sensitive to sunlight and have to be packaged accordingly. Beer, wine, essential oils, and light-sensitive pharmaceuticals are generally stored in glass containers that are either green, amber, or a combination of the two. Some brands also use their container colours to help them stand out and promote brand awareness.

long green bottle necks

Chrome Plating

Chrome plating is a popular process by which a thin layer of chrome is applied to a metal object. Commonly performed on tools, cookware, and car parts, chrome plating provides increased corrosion resistance, increased hardness, more convenient cleaning, and a brilliant metallic shine that is preferred by many over the lustre of the original materials.

The chromium for chrome plating is extracted from chrome flour. It is dissolved in a plating tank and drawn to the desired object by running an electric current through the solution. This process is called electroplating. You might hear chrome-plating referred to simply as “chrome”.

Leather Tanning

Iron chromite as an oxidising agent was adopted by tanners around 1840 as a faster alternative to the widely-used method of vegetable tanning. Tanning alters the protein structure of the hide, improving its durability, reducing the risk of decomposition, and in some cases, applying the desired colourant to the skin. Chrome tanning is preferred for its ability to be done quickly and to produce a stretchable leather. This type of strong, stretchy, and coloured leather is perfect for clothing and accessories like handbags.

Tops of green bottles

Importance of Iron Chromite

Found in large deposits in South Africa, India, and several other countries around the world, it is mined and milled for several industries that produce items we see and use every day. Many people don’t realize how often they come into contact with products that either contain or were made with chrome flour.

Your kitchenware, beverages, apothecary products, and even the bricks and cement around your home require the use of this versatile mineral compound. It contributes to everything from aesthetic value and convenience to safety and accessibility. If you take a look around your home or work place, you’ll likely spot a variety of items and materials manufactured using this material.

Chromite Flour in a pot