B) Durability versus Percentage Growth of Raw Perlite
Our perlite is at least twice as strong as the perlite currently on the market. On a farm, in more rigorous conditions, stronger perlite will be more durable.
An understanding of the history of the pursuit of perlite excellence is necessary to understand this point. As explained in length previously, raw perlite contains a certain percentage of water within the amorphous glass structure. When heated, one of the defining characteristics of perlite is how well it “pops”. Perlite miners pursued better and better expanding perlite until it was determined that the “best” perlite expands up to 17 X’s its original size when heated. This high expansion also affects the appearance of perlite, making it whiter. The more the
expansion and the lighter the color, the more desirable the processed perlite was in the marketplace. Little thought was given to the durability of this light weight, highly expanded perlite because the primary horticultural use was for small gardens and greenhouses where heavy equipment was not used.
Our mission is to bring perlite’s water reservoir capabilities to farmlands. Given that the end-use is slightly different, it can readily be understood that some characteristic of perlite that is ideal for gardens may make it less suitable for farms. On a farm, there is more heavy machinery that is used on the fields, more tilling, more manipulation of soil and thus, the perlite that is in the topsoil ideally should be more durable than the perlite that is in the potting soil of a potted plant. Our perlite retains its ability to soak and store water while retaining twice the strength of our competitors’ perlite and thus better able to withstand harsh field conditions including trampling by workers, tractor tires, and other farming heavy machinery activity, making it much more suitable for large-scale farmland use.
Bigger (growth) is not always better and in no case is this truer than the ideal type of perlite for farmland. Durability of perlite on a farm is much more important given that crushed perlite has no more water absorbing ability than sand. Raw perlite with a higher water content (4 percent versus for example 3 percent water) will grow more and the “best perlite” pops up to 17X its original size. This high growth also means that there is less structure per cubic area of the expanded perlite.
It is simple physics. The easiest way to increase the strength and durability of these small pebbles of perlite is to increase its mass. Conclusion is simple – less growth, 8X’s growth perlite, will be much stronger and more durable than 17X’s growth perlite. On Perlite Inc. has almost exclusively perlite that grows between 5 and 10 times, whereas most the perlite that is sold as horticultural perlite in the U. S. is 12 to 17X growth perlite. We are not aware of any other current perlite provider in the U.S. that has a substantial deposit of this quality perlite in their mines.
What of water absorption of 7X perlite versus 17X perlite? 7x perlite has grown 7 times during expansion/popping. That means for the 7x perlite, 6/7 of the perlite pebble is air, or 85% air. For the 17x perlite, 16/17 is air and 1/17 is comprised of amorphous glass structure, or 94% air. So, theoretically, the 17X perlite that has a given unit of 1, can absorb 94 percent of its size in water. 7X perlite (ours) can absorb 85% of its identical same size in water. So, our 7X perlite can absorb 10% less water than the 17X perlite but is 100% stronger than the 17X perlite (since twice the material is present for a given same shape and size). 7X perlite may potentially last 30 years. 17X perlite may potentially last less than 10 years. It will take years of testing to discover, but for a small 10% improvement in water absorption (meaning, 7x perlite may result in 14% water savings and 17X perlite may result in 15.5% water savings), what farmer would risk losing the stronger more durable 7X perlite that potentially lasts 20+ years longer?