Sodium Bentonite

Sodium Bentonite

Sodium Bentonite

Captivating Properties of Wyoming Sodium Bentonite

This article delves into the fascinating world of Wyoming sodium bentonite , a material often taken for granted in the field. We’ll explore its unique formation, properties, and how it contributes to effective drilling fluids .

Formation and Applications

Formed millions of years ago from volcanic ash in the Big Horn Basin (western U.S.), Wyoming sodium bentonite is a finite resource with various grades . Its applications extend beyond drilling , encompassing industries like metal casting , pet products , and cosmetics .

The Magic of Bentonite

Imagine three cubes of Wyoming sodium bentonite, each an inch square. Properly prepared, these cubes can cover an astonishing 66 football fields, showcasing its incredible surface area . This owes to its unique composition of negatively charged platelets that repel each other .

Wyoming sodium bentonite is a champion of swelling, absorbing large amounts of water and expanding up to 20 times its volume. This property is crucial for its effectiveness in drilling fluids .

Calcium Bentonite vs. Sodium Bentonite

While calcium bentonite is more common, its needle-like structure results in lower viscosity, gel strength, and suspension compared to the superior performance of Wyoming sodium bentonite.

Troubleshooting Common Bentonite Issues

Have you encountered challenges like:

  • Difficulty mixing bentonite or requiring excessive amounts to achieve desired viscosity?
  • Settling bentonite with clear water separation upon stopping the mixer?
  • Unusual pump noises or stringy polymers during mixing?

These issues might not be with the bentonite itself, but with the makeup water.

Sodium Bentonite

The Importance of Makeup Water

Water constitutes 95-99% of drilling fluid. If you’re experiencing problems, the culprit could be the water quality. Low pH (less than 8) or hard water (high calcium) can disrupt the natural repulsion between bentonite platelets, causing them to clump together (flocculation).

The Solution: Soda Ash

To prevent flocculation, add soda ash to the mix tank during water insertion. A small amount, typically ¼ to ½ pound per 100 gallons, can significantly improve performance. Simple pH test strips can help you determine the water’s pH and adjust accordingly.

Benefits of a Balanced Bentonite Slurry

When the bentonite platelets efficiently repel each other, they form a thin, tight filter cake around the borehole, creating a stable drilling environment.

Why Bentonite-Based Drilling Fluids?

Bentonite plays a vital role in drilling by:

  • Cooling and lubricating the drill bit
  • Cleaning the hole and carrying cuttings
  • Maintaining borehole stability
  • Controlling fluid loss and subsurface pressures
  • Reducing torque in difficult soil conditions

Bentonite: An Industry Standard

When properly hydrated with the right mix-water, Wyoming sodium bentonite is a top performer and an industry standard for both horizontal and vertical drilling. Its versatility allows for the addition of polymers and other additives to handle specific drilling situations.


This article has hopefully shed light on the remarkable properties of Wyoming sodium bentonite and its critical role in creating effective drilling fluids.

Clay-based flocculants can give the following results for treating Industrial wastewaters :

  • The clay-based flocculants have been proven to be successful in removing free and emulsified oils.
  • Clay-based flocculants are known to improve turbidity and remove color from painting and dye found in some industrial wastewater.
  • The flocculation process becomes more efficient and the cost is often reduced.
  • Better filtration.
  • Improve water clarity and produce an effluent water that can be recycled or safely discharged to the water streams under a discharge permit.
  • Jar testing should be conducted to determine the right clay blend and to determine dosage rates.

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