Gilsonite is a common name for a Group of Solid Bitumen Minerals called Grahamite with Generic name of Natural Bitumen. Below is diagram of all Solid Bitumen materials categorized by end of 20th century:


what is gilsonite:

Basically, Grahamite or Gilsonite is a SOLID MINERAL BITUMEN which is categorized by geologists as SOLVABLE material in OIL solvents, such as CS2, TCE & CCL4.


Solid Bitumen including Gilsonite goes by different names across the globe depending on the local names given and the industry which is the main consumer of natural bitumen. Below is an overview of the different names given to Natural Bitumen:

  • USA: Gilsonite, Uintaite or Uinitite
  • Canada: Albertite
  • Latin America: Asphaltite or Asfaltita
  • Trinidad: Lake Asphalt
  • China: Bituminous Rock, Pyrobitumen
  • Middle East & India: Natural Asphalt, Asphaltum

All above names refer to a certain product that can be categorized as above table depending on the characteristics of the mineral which varies from one origin to another.

How is Gilsonite Formed

Gilsonite formation routes to its origin which is crude oil. Basically Gilsonite is formed when a proto-petroleum deposit is trying to elevate to surface and solidifying within the cracks and under pressure in millions of years the material becomes a solid shiny black source of Hydrocarbons.

Gilsonite History

Gilsonite or Natural Bitumen was discovered for the first time in USA during the 19th century. Originally Native Americans resident in Utah were familiar with the material and used it for different purposes such as Teeth Cavities and Waterproofing.

Samuel H. Gilson who was in horse trading business initially learnt about Gilsonite from Native Americans. By checking this shiny black material at the Columbia College School of Mines in 1865, Gilson found out that the material has over 95% of hydrocarbon content.

Most efforts by Gilson was Not Successful, but as a pioneer for the item, the material was named after Samual Gilson into the mineral Gilsonite. He finally sold his company under a firm in Saint Luis which renamed it to The Gilson Asphaltum Company.

There were developments in application of Gilsonite in Ink and drilling application and also big failures from John Kelly and American Gilsonite company to treat the material as source of Fuel.

Eventually Chevron was successful in promoting and researching Gilsonite and established the American Gilsonite Company which during 100 years has researched and supplied Gilsonite for variety of applications to over 70 countries.

Gilsonite Products

Gilsonite has wide area of application depending on these specifications while it has superior advantages to many substitute materials (for example sea coal in Foundry) as it is originated from Crude Oil – Unlike Pyrobitumens – and many aromatic or aliphatic components of Crude Oil exist within the Natural Bitumen Molecular Structure.

Apart from all the points, price is one of the important parameters for choosing any product. Gilsonite Price is derived of a combined set of factors and variables. the price of iran gilsonite Because of unstable exchange rate to Iranian currency (IRR) the Gilsonite prices provided to customers in USD keep changing according to the exchange rate.

The key to applying and taking advantages of these superior characteristics is based on knowing the conditions of Blend & Formulation of the product as an additive/raw material in each certain application from Oil Drilling and Foundry to more delicate ones such as Inks, Paints & Stains.

Gilsonite Suppliers

There are numerous suppliers of Gilsonite from different origins including USA, Iran, Colombia and Albania. From USA major supplier with over 50% market share is American Gilsonite company while from Iran there are over 100 suppliers which can short listed into 5 companies eventually with the necessary infrastructure to export Iranian Gilsonite, Zista Gilsonite included as most of these suppliers are actually one advertiser for other company without having any financial nor technical resources.

In Colombia mining operations are active but exporters are few with the main target as USA for direct consumption or for blending with other materials and processing into final products in case of American Gilsonite company. Albania Gilsonite suppliers are still primitive and quality control is a big issue in addition to the commercial complexities of dealing with any Albanian Exporter.