Gilsonite Historical Note

 History of (Natural Asphalt or Natural Bitumen) Gilsonite

The mineral predominantly known as Gilsonite (Natural Asphalt or Natural Bitumen) was discovered in the early 1860's, but it was only in the mid-80’s when Samuel H. Gilson started to endorse it as a water-resistant varnish for wooden pilings, as an insulation for wire cable, and as a unique coating for various applications. The initial promotion of the ore was so prosperous that in 1888, Gilsonand a partner established the first company to mine and market Gilsonite (Natural Asphalt) on a more viable scale. Gilsonite was initially offered as "Selects" and "Fines"; the low softening point ore with conchoidal fracture was known as "Selects", and the higher softening point ore with a pencillated structure was known as "Fines". Selects demanded a higher value than Fines due to its higher purity, decent solubility, and effectiveness in the three main protective coating industries, paint, stain, and varnish. However, time and technology have transformed this taxonomy. Gilsonite (Natural Bitumen)  processes nowadays remove most of the inert impurities and on the other hand, innovative, more potent solvents make the higher softening point grades more appealing to potential customers. Today, Gilsonite is classified by two parameters, softening point (a rough measure of solubility) and particle size. All grades convey quality far better than those of rudimentary Gilsonite promoted in the 1880's.