Types, Properties and Uses of Mineral Fibres

What is Mineral Fibre?
Mineral fibres are made from minerals, typically inorganic materials such as rock, slag, or glass. The term is often used to describe different types of insulation materials that are made from these minerals, such as asbestos, fibreglass and rock wool. Abestos is a very important industrial fibre that serves the textile industry in a number of useful ways.

mineral fibres
Fig: Mineral fibres

Mineral fibers are processed by melting the mineral material and spinning it into fibers. Mineral fiber is known for its excellent thermal and acoustical properties, making it a popular choice for building insulation, soundproofing, and fire protection applications. It is typically manufactured by melting the minerals and then spinning or blowing them into fibres, which are then formed into mats or batts and used as insulation.

Mineral fibres are often favored for their fire resistance, durability, and ability to withstand high temperatures. However, it is important to note that some forms of mineral fibers, such as asbestos, can be hazardous if inhaled, and therefore proper safety measures should be taken when handling them.

Properties of Mineral Fibres:
Mineral fibers have several physical and chemical properties that make them useful for various applications. Here are some of the properties of mineral fibers:

  1. Strength: Some mineral fibres, such as glass wool and rock wool, are strong and durable, making them suitable for use in construction, insulation, and reinforcement materials.
  2. Heat resistance: These fibers are highly resistant to heat, making them ideal for use in high-temperature applications, such as insulating pipes, ducts, and industrial equipment.
  3. Fire resistance: Many mineral fibers are non-combustible and have low smoke generation, making them ideal for use in fireproofing and firestopping systems.
  4. Insulation properties: These fibers have excellent insulation properties, which makes them ideal for use in buildings and industrial applications to reduce heat loss.
  5. Acoustical properties: Some mineral fibres, such as rock wool, have good acoustical properties, making them suitable for use in soundproofing materials.
  6. Chemical resistance: Glass wool, are resistant to certain chemicals, such as acids and alkalis, which makes them suitable for use in industrial applications.
  7. Low water absorption: Some mineral fibers, such as rock wool, have low water absorption, which makes them suitable for use in applications where moisture resistance is important.
  8. Long service life: These fibers have a long service life, making them a cost-effective choice for many applications.

Types of Mineral Fibres:
There are several types of mineral fibers that are used in various applications, including insulation, construction, and industrial applications. Here are some of the most common types of mineral fibers:

a) Asbestos: The most important fibre material among the mineral fibres is asbestos (AS), which had been used as early as 2500 years ago. The basic elements in asbestos are silica, magnesium, lime and oxides of iron. The fibre is very tough, flexible and comparatively longer. Owing to its non-inflammable nature, it has very high potential to be used in fire-resistant and fire-retardant materials or fabrics. Compared to chemical and natural fibres, asbestos fibres are extremely fine. The diameter of the elementary fibres varies between 0.02 and 0.2 μm. However, its use has been largely banned in many countries due to its association with lung diseases, such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.

b) Fiberglass: Fiberglass is made by melting silica sand and other raw materials, such as soda ash and limestone, and spinning the melted mixture into fine fibers. These fibers are then woven into a mat-like material, which is used in a variety of applications, including insulation, construction, and industrial applications.

c) Rock wool: Rock wool is a type of mineral fiber that is made from basalt rock that is melted and spun into fibers. It is commonly used for insulation, fireproofing, and soundproofing applications.

d) Ceramic fibers: Ceramic fibers are high-temperature resistant mineral fibers that are made from materials such as alumina, silica, and zirconia. They are commonly used in high-temperature insulation and fireproofing applications.

e) Slag wool: Slag wool is a type of mineral fiber that is made from the by-products of the steelmaking process. It is commonly used for insulation and fireproofing applications.

f) Glass wool: Glass wool is a type of mineral fiber that is made from melted glass that is spun into fibers. It is commonly used for insulation in buildings, as well as for acoustical and fireproofing applications.

Application / Uses of Mineral Fibres:
Mineral fibres are a group of materials that are derived from naturally occurring minerals such as asbestos, glass, and rock wool. These fibres are characterized by their high strength, durability, and resistance to heat and fire. Some common uses of mineral fibres include:

1. Protective clothing: Mineral fibres are commonly used in protective clothing to provide thermal and fire protection. They are used in firefighters’ suits, heat-resistant gloves, aprons, and other protective gear for workers in high-temperature industries such as foundries and steel mills.

2. Insulation: Mineral fibres are commonly used as thermal and acoustical insulation in homes, buildings, and industrial applications. They are efficient at preventing heat loss and reducing noise levels.

Insulation board of mineral fibres
Fig: Insulation board of mineral fibres

3. Fire protection: Some mineral fibres, like rock wool and glass wool, have excellent fire-resistant properties and are used in fireproofing and firestopping systems in buildings and ships.

4. Friction products: Mineral fibres like asbestos were used in the past to manufacture friction products such as brake linings, clutch facings, and gaskets due to their heat resistance and durability. However, the use of asbestos in such products has been banned in many countries due to its health hazards.

5. Filters: Mineral fibres, especially glass fiber is used in air and liquid filters due to their high porosity and ability to trap particles.

6. Reinforcement: These fibres are used as reinforcements in composites, building materials, and construction products, such as fibre-reinforced plastics and concrete.

7. Construction materials: Rock wool and glass wool are used as insulating and fireproofing materials in construction and as components in roofing and wall systems.

Advantages of Mineral Fibres:
Mineral fibers have several advantages, which make them a popular choice for use in a variety of applications. Some of the key advantages of mineral fibers include:

  1. High strength and durability
  2. Low shrinkage and dimensional stability
  3. Resistance to heat and fire
  4. Good insulation properties
  5. Low thermal conductivity
  6. Good acoustical properties
  7. Low water absorption
  8. Chemical resistance
  9. Low smoke generation
  10. Non-combustible
  11. Long service life.
  12. Versatility for use in a range of textile products.

Disadvantages of Mineral Fibres:
Disadvantages of mineral fibres are given below:

  1. Health hazards associated with inhaling some mineral fibres, such as asbestos
  2. Environmental impact from production and disposal
  3. Higher cost compared to other insulation materials
  4. Moisture sensitivity, which can reduce insulation performance and encourage mold growth
  5. Chemical sensitivity, which can cause deterioration over time
  6. Difficult installation, especially in hard-to-reach areas
  7. Waste management challenges due to potential health hazards associated with disposal.


  1. Natural Fibre Composites: Manufacturing, Characterization, and Testing By Mohamed Zakriya G. and Ramakrishnan G.
  2. Principles of Spinning: Fibres and Blow Room Cotton Processing in Spinning by Ashok R. Khare
  3. Fibres to Fabrics by Bev Ashford
  4. Textile Technology: An Introduction, Second Edition  by Thomas Gries, Dieter Veit, and Burkhard Wulfhorst

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