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What is Isinglass?

Mica, or isinglass, forms in thin transparent layers.
Layered mica.
Isinglass is properly known as muscovite, and is often used for window glass in Moscow.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 25 September 2014
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More properly known as muscovite, isinglass is a form of mica that is often found in sheets. The sheets are often very thin, transparent, and somewhat elastic in nature. Russia and India have been the site of mining sheets of mica on an ongoing basis. This mineral can be found in a number of different natural formations, including granites and gneisses.

The designation of muscovite for isinglass originates from the common usage of the mineral in the country of Russia. Around the city of Moscow, the material is often used for window glass. The particular formula that is used to create these clear and tinted panes is known as Muscovy-glass.

Isinglass is understood to form through a process that, over time, involves the natural alteration of various minerals until the result is the thin layers that can be mined and used for several different products. Such minerals as kyanite, feldspar, and topaz are often cited as building blocks for the creation of isinglass. Once the mineral is extracted, it can be used for applications other than the creation of window glass. One of the properties that makes it so attractive is that the material lends itself well to tinting, making it possible to give the finished product transparent or translucent mixtures of color.

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Today, isinglass is sometimes used to create fireproofing for a number of different products, including heavy fabrics and items that are used in camping and other sports. It can also be used for insulation, with the substance often used as an additive to create rolls of insulation as well as foam chips that can be blown into wall spaces. The material can also be melted and used in different types of machine lubricants, although it does not seem to work well in lubricants that are meant for general use. Glass products remain a popular option for its use, both as glass for windows and a wide range of other items.

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anon83099
Post 4

There is a famous legal case decided by federal Judge Paul Leahy in the Delaware Federal District Court in which the issue was whether the DuPont company which had invented cellophane had a monopoly in violation of the antitrust laws because it was the only producer of cellophane.

Judge Leahy held that it was not a monopoly because isinglass was a competitive product. In retrospect, a dubious outcome since cellophane is a far superior product and cellophane in fact, took over the market.

anon21905
Post 2

Eisenglass is a colloquial designation for isinglass; however, eisenglass products are sometimes made out of sheer sheets of vinyl as well as thin sheets of mica.

anon21861
Post 1

I'm writing a short story set in North carolina. The main character finds himself in the NC Museum of Minerals on the Blueridge Pkwy. Later,he buys a lamp with a shade made of mica. Shininess and translucency play apart in the imagery of the story.

Somewhere I got the idea, or probably wrong info, that isinglass was spelled eisenglass, and that it was so named because General Eisenhower's military vehicles used the material as windows because it wouldn't shatter and he couldn't be seen but could see out. Is there any truth to this?

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