What is Graphite?
Graphite is a mineral that is one of the many forms of carbon; it is mined in several prominent areas of the world, though fine crystals of graphite are rare finds. Large veins of graphite can be mined out, and in those veins, only a few fine crystals will be found. Though graphite is chemically similar to diamond, its physical qualities are very different. Graphite is usually found in brittle, inflexible flakes ; graphite is dark and greasy to the touch, smudging readily on objects.
How is Graphite Used?
The most common use of graphite, as a great deal of schoolchildren know, is as "lead" in pencils. Pencil lead is made from the slag (the not so fine crystals of graphite) mixed with clay. However, the finer crystals of graphite are often sought after and used in electrical components, as graphite is one of the only conductors of electricity that is not metallic in origin.
Where is Graphite Found?
There are a variety of sites where graphite (both in its fine and less fine states) is found: Pargas, Finland; Naples, Italy; and the Francon Quarry near Quebec are all graphite-rich places. Graphite is also found in smaller quantities throughout the United States, including parts of New Jersey, New York, Arizona and Colorado.