cryolite

noun cryo·lite \ ˈkrī-ə-ˌlīt \

Definition of cryolite

: a mineral consisting of a fluoride of sodium and aluminum found especially in Greenland usually in white cleavable masses and formerly used as a source of aluminum

Origin and Etymology of cryolite

borrowed from German Chryolit or French chryolithe, from chryo- (unetymologically for cryo- cryo-) + -lit, -lithe -lite
Note: The mineral was first described and apparently named by the Danish physician Peter Christian Abildgaard (1740-1801) in a report to Allgemeines Journal der Chemie, vol. 2 (1799), p. 502: "Zugleich theilte er auch eine Nachricht von einer vor wenigen Jahren aus Grönland nach Dänemark gebrachten besonders weissen spathartigen Miner mit. Einer damit angestellten Untersuchung zu folge bestand sie aus Thonerde und Flussspathsäure. Eine Verbindung, von welcher noch kein ähnliches Beyspiel im Mineralreich vorgekommen ist. Sie hat den Namen Chryolit erhalten, weil sie vor dem Löthrohre wie gefrorne Salzlauge schmilzt." ("At the same time he [Professor Abildgaard] has communicated a report about a particularly white spar-like ore brought to Denmark from Greenland several years ago. The result of an investigation undertaken for the purpose is that it consists of alumina and hydrofluoric acid. A combination for which a like example has not yet been found in the mineral kingdom. It has received the name cryolite because on exposure to the blowpipe it melts into a sort of frozen brine.")


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