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Bentonite “Water absorption and swelling”:
Bentonite “Water absorption and swelling”: A fundamental property of Bentonite is to absorb water and expand. However, not all Bentonites have the same absorption capacity. Its level of hydration and swelling depends on the type of exchangeable ions contained, with different hydrophilic and solvating power. Swelling is mainly due to two factors: 1) water absorption at platelet surface level, and 2) osmotic repulsive forces, forcing platelets to detach and open up like a “stack of cards”. Sodium Bentonite, with sodium cation prevalence (Na+) allows water to penetrate through the platelets, forcing them apart, thus leading to swelling. Conversely, calcium Bentonite, with calcium cation prevalence (Ca2+), while getting hydrated in much the same way, due to its strong positive charge, has lower absorption properties, not permitting water to penetrate through the platelets. In this latter case, platelets flake off rather than swell.