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Where to Find High-Quality Perlite and Vermiculite in South Africa

Gerbrand Haasbroek

Perlite and vermiculite can be used both as soil additives or as filter media. Due to their exceptional insulating properties, they are also often seen in the construction industry. 

Arguably, the most common use for perlite and vermiculite is in the agricultural and horticultural sectors. These minerals can retain up to four times their weight in water, and yet still aid in encouraging drainage. As a result of their porous nature, horticultural grade perlite and vermiculite help to maximise soil aeration. 

If you are keen to embrace the power of agricultural perlite and vermiculite, you will undoubtedly be looking for a perlite and vermiculite factory that specialises in perlite and vermiculite for sale in South Africa. Introducing Sun Silicates

South Africa’s Leading High-Capacity Perlite and Vermiculite Factory

Our perlite and vermiculite factory specialises in the manufacture of these high quality products for a variety of different sectors in South Africa. 

We sell perlite and vermiculite separately and we are also able to provide our customers with the opportunity to benefit from unique mixes of the two, as per their specifications and budget constraints. 

So, how can you be sure that our factory can supply you with world-class quality? For starters, Sun Silicates is ISO 9001:2015 compliant. Our high-quality perlite ore is imported from Turkish and Greek mines. The difference in quality is quite significant compared to other variants of perlite currently available on the market. It is characterised by low density while maintaining strength that ensures a dust-free product.

When it comes to processing our vermiculite, we effectively remove any foreign materials and also classify the product so that the coarser grades are dust-free. Our processes rely on natural gas to exfoliate the perlite and vermiculite, this, in turn, gives the growers the surety that no hydrocarbon deposits will find their way into the growing media, a problem that can have serious implications on plant health. The high temperature processes that are employed ensure a completely sterile product.

At our perlite and vermiculite factory, you can choose from a wide array of grades including coarse, medium, fine, superfine, and micron grades in line with your needs. 

In light of COVID-19 and the subsequent economic impact on the agriculture and construction industries, we are encouraging our customers to consider placing bulk orders and benefiting from the automatic discount thereof. Obviously, it is now more important than ever to cut costs! 

Get in touch today for more information or to place your order. 

Perlite and vermiculite: the importance of growing media density

Gerbrand Haasbroek

When buying perlite and vermiculite in litres, the product with the lower density remains the better choice. Our latest blog post explains why.

Most people know that 1 liter of water weighs typically 1 kg. This fact is sometimes confused when dealing with products that has significantly lower density as is the case with growing media. People tend to buy a “bag” or per Kg not realising that there could be a significant difference in the volume of the product that you buy.


The relationship between mass, volume and density is the simple formulation of:

Density = Mass / Volume

P = M/V

From this equation, you can generate a formula to calculate any of the other unknowns, as long as you have the other two know values i.e.

M = P X V

V = M/P

The standard unit for density is Kg/cubic meters. In many instances, people talk of densities in terms of grams per litre as it sounds “better” or beacuse, in the lab, you would typically fill a one-liter flask and weigh the material in grams.

An example of this will be Perlite that weighs 100 kg/cubic meter i.e. the density is 0.1. Instead of using this, people will call this density “100” i.e. 100 grams per litre.

Why is density important in perlite and vermiculite? 

The following are a few reasons why density is important:

  1.   In a horticultural environment, you typically want to fill a container such as a planter. The lower the growing media density ,the more volume of product you will get per kg you have bought.
  2.   The lower the density, the more air is in the medium. This allows for the following:
  3.   Improved drainage
  4.   Improved insulation in cold climates
  5.   More air-filled porosity that is required for the roots to grow and transpire.
  6.   The lighter the planter will be to move around.
  7.   When the manufacturer exfoliates the perlite or vermiculite, he starts off with a dense ore that is then exfoliated to the final low-density product. The lighter the product, the smaller quantity of initial ore is used to manufacture the final product. This leads to lower input cost, which should translate into a cheaper product for the customer. The less ore the supplier uses, the less energy he needs to produce a litre of product. Once again, this drives  the cost of the final product down. Energy cost is a major component of the manufacturing expense.
  8.   When the growing media breaks down during handling/manufacturing, the small particles find its way in between the larger particles, this, in turn, increases the packing density of the media. Fine particles are detrimental in a growing media as it reduces the air-filled porosity that in turn affect root growth. It therefore stands to reason that buying in litres, the product with the lower density remains the better choice.
  9.   There is a direct correlation between density and the strength of the particles, therefore it is also important to note that very light material might not be as good as it will need to be handled carefully to prevent unwanted breakdown. 

What is a typical density of a growing media for perlite and vermiculite? 

The density of the final growing media is determined by the exfoliation process as well as the original ore quality. Growing media with density ranging from 70 to 120 g/liter is typical.

Need more information about perlite or vermiculite? Then contact us today.


Gerbrand Haasbroek

CemteQ, sister company to Sun Silicates, has launched the first in its range of perlite and cement composite products. These composites use perlite as an aggregate replacement, together with cement and special admixtures for bespoke plaster, screed and concrete applications.

Due to the unique nature of perlite, these composite products offer significant insulation, fire-resistance, lightweight and acoustic properties.


The first products in the CemteQ range include PlasterLite which is a super-smooth, easy-to-apply composite material for trowel-on plaster and low-velocity pumped plaster applications. It combines a carefully developed combination of exfoliated perlite with quality cement, admixtures and micro fibres in a bag to offer a unique one-coat plaster solution without the requirement for a skim plaster. PlasterLite is available in white and grey and offers approximately six to eight times the insulation properties of ordinary plaster, saving significantly on heating and cooling costs. The R-value for 15mm ordinary plaster is approximately 0.019 m2.K/W, whereas the R-value for PlasterLite White is 0.128 m2.K/W and PlasterLite Grey is 0.156 m2.K/W. PlasterLite also weighs between 25-30% of traditional plaster, reducing the weight by ton per 50-60m2 of plaster at 15mm thick.


Newly introduced is also CemteQ’s ScreedPerl insulating, lightweight screed material. This is designed to prevent downward heat loss in floors, saving significantly on heating costs. It also provides a lightweight, insulating solution for roofs and can be easily sloped towards drainage points or to the roof edge providing suitable water run-off and preventing damage. The R-value for a 30mm floor screed using traditional materials would be 0.042 m2.K/W compared to ScreedPerl with an R-value of 0.316 m2.K/W, providing approximately 7.5 times the insulation of ordinary plaster.

The installed weight of ScreedPerl is between 460-470 kg/m3 which equates to roughly 20% of traditional screed material. This offers distinct structural design benefits and makes it easier to work with and transport. The product is not suitable for high wear areas and must be covered with a floor covering such as carpets, wood or tiles. ScreedPerl can be applied to various uneven or curved surfaces with a suitable bonding agent. It is not waterproof and must be covered with a suitable waterproofing system when used on roof decks.


CemteQ PlasterLite and ScreedPerl


CemteQ’s Perlite-based products also offer excellent fire protection for up to 4 hours. They have low linear expansion characteristics which greatly reduce the development of cracks, ensuring that the temperature of the structure and load-bearing members is maintained below the critical point at which weakening or failure is likely to occur. They do not release smoke or toxic gas and do not disintegrate or spall when cooled suddenly with a firehose.

The products provide efficient sound dampening, particularly for pulsed sounds, are inorganic and do not rot or decay over time.

For more information, please contact us on, or give us a call on (+27-11) 824-4600


Gerbrand Haasbroek


Wadeville-based Sun Silicates has established a sister company, CemteQ Building Solutions (Pty) Ltd, that specialises in developing and marketing unique, value-adding products for the building and construction industries. Initially CemteQ will focus on using high quality Perlite produced by Sun Silicates as an aggregate replacement, together with cement and special admixtures, to produce unique and bespoke solutions for plaster, screeds and concrete applications. Due to the nature of Perlite, these composite products offer significant insulation, fire-resistance, lightweight and acoustic properties.

CemteQ is committed to developing, manufacturing and distributing world-class, smart, sustainable building materials that make meaningful changes to the way people live and build.

The company will be launching with a construction grade loose Perlite and a value-added white plaster composite product. Specially formulated, value-added floor and roof screeds as well as a grey plaster will follow in the second quarter of 2018.

SunPerl construction-grade loose Perlite will be available in 100l polypropylene bags with a bulk density of 70-80kg/m3. For the past 70 years, loose Perlite has been widely used in the construction industry in Europe and the USA for its exceptional insulating and lightweight properties. The construction grade Perlite is the same aggregate used in high temperature insulating refractory concretes. Perlite excels in these applications, due to its high melting point, low density and chemically inert nature.

A super-smooth, easy-to-apply composite for trowel-on plaster and low-velocity pumped plaster applications will be introduced. This will combine a formulation of exfoliated Perlite with quality cement, various admixtures and fibres in a unique bagged, one-coat plaster solution without the requirement for a skim plaster. The plaster product will be introduced in white and grey and offers significantly better insulation properties than ordinary plaster, saving significantly on heating and cooling costs. The R-value for 15mm . K/W ordinary plaster is approximately 0.021 whereas the R-value for a perlite plaster is 0.105m2 . K/W to 0.111m2 , offering significantly better insulation than ordinary plaster. Perlite plasters also weigh 8.4kg/m2 at 15mm thick on the wall whereas normal plaster weighs in excess of 27kg/m2. This reduces the weight of plaster alone by one ton per 54m2 at 15mm thick.

CemteQ PlasterPerl finish

Says CemteQ managing director, Victor Bouguenon, “We worked closely with AfriSam and Sika to develop a one-coat, white plaster product with a superior finish and unmatched lightweight and insulating properties and believe that we have set a new bar in sustainable building materials.”

Development of additional composite products is at an advanced stage and CemteQ will be launching its value-added screed products in the second quarter of 2018. Perlite-based screeds for floors and roofs will be available for standard lightweight and insulating applications as well as for ultra lightweight and insulating applications to achieve maximum R-values.

Perlite-based screeds are specifically designed to prevent downward heat loss in floors with undertile heating, saving significantly on heating costs. They will also provide an ultra-lightweight, insulating solution for roofs, providing suitable run-off and preventing water damage. It will be possible to apply the products to flat, uneven or curved surfaces.

All CemteQ’s Perlite-based products offer excellent fire protection. They have low linear expansion characteristics which greatly reduce the development of cracks, ensuring that the temperature of the structure and load bearing members is maintained below the critical point at which weakening or failure is likely to occur. They release no smoke or toxic gas and do not disintegrate or spall when cooled suddenly with a firehose.

The products also provide efficient sound dampening, particularly for pulsed sounds, are inorganic and do not rot or decay over time.

Exfoliated Perlite and how it is produced

Perlite is a naturally occurring amorphous volcanic glass formed by the rapid cooling and solidification of volcanic lava which traps crystalline water into its mass.

The highest quality raw Perlite is imported from Turkey and heat-processed by our sister company, Sun Silicates, using state-of-the-art technology. The process of exfoliating Perlite is based on the presence of two to six percent combined water in raw Perlite rock. When quickly heated to above 870°C, the raw particles expand to between four and twenty times their original volume as the combined water vaporizes and creates countless tiny bubbles in the glassy material.

This results in a snow-white material with excellent thermal and acoustic insulation properties on floors, walls and roofs together with exceptional lightweight and fireproof characteristics and a very low carbon footprint.

SunPerl Construction Grade Perlite as produced by Sun Silicates

Perlite is widely used in construction in the Middle East, Europe and the USA. Its low density and relatively low price make it ideal for use in eco-friendly mixtures with cementitious materials. Typical applications include:

  • Lightweight and insulating plasters
  • Insulating screeds on concrete floors or flat roofs
  • Lightweight and insulating concrete
  • Loose fill in cavities for insulation
  • Fireproofing of structural steel columns
  • Lightweight precast cladding
  • Decorative applications


For any enquires or information, feel free to contact Victor Bouguenon on +27 11 824 4600, or send him an email at

Otherwise, feel free to visit our website, or our sister company’s website at




Gerbrand Haasbroek

The potting mix that your plants grow in is called the “growing medium or media”. Dozens of different ingredients are used in varying combinations to create homemade or commercial growing media.  By understanding the functions of growing media, you can evaluate the qualities of individual types and select which ones might work best for your pots and your garden.


Growing medium has three main functions

  1. Supply roots with nutrients, air, and water
  2. Allow for maximum root growth, and
  3. Physically support the plant.

Roots grow in the spaces between individual particles of soil.  Air and water also travel through these pore spaces.  Water is the medium that carries nutrients that plants need to fuel their growth, and air is needed for root growth and the health of soil microorganisms that help supply plants with nutrients.



SunPerl horticultural perlite (SunPerl Horti)

Perlite is the snowy white granular particles that look like small pieces of styrofoam you will see in some potting mediums.

Perlite is formed when volcanic mineral rock is heated quickly causing it to exfoliate/expand. The result is a very lightweight, porous material that is hard and does not break apart easily. It is inorganic and sterile, has a neutral pH and can hold 3-4 times its weight in water yet will not rot or become soggy.


Sun Silicates supplies perlite in 3 different grades for the horticultural industry – small, medium and large.

Medium grade perlite is best to use in potting mixes for seeds and seedlings.

  • The principal value of perlite in any potting medium is providing aeration and improving water drainage
  • The surface area of perlite particles is covered with tiny cavities that hold moisture while the particles themselves create tunnels in the mixture that allow air and water to flow freely to the roots
  • The most important aspect of growing seedlings is healthy roots. Perlite in potting soil provides that all important environment.
  • Perlite is one of the best media for growing plants. It is possible to grow most plants in perlite alone and is just as successful as traditional peat mixes. Perlite can also be re-used.
  • However, there are no nutrients in perlite so fertilizer must be added as soon as the first true leaves appear.
  • In the garden, you can use perlite to open up airways in heavy soils by sprinkling the granules over the surface of your garden before you start planting. Wet it down to moisten it and work the perlite into the top 10-15 cm of soil.
  • Some hydroponic systems use perlite as the sole growing medium with only water and nutrients added.

Perlite culture is a cost-effective growing medium. Less water and fertilizer is wasted because of perlite’s excellent capillary action of water and nutrients. Perlite is successfully used in virtually all horticultural applications.




Plants require soil aeration, nutrition, water and sun to grow. If you find that your garden soil is lacking in any or all of these arenas, you can add vermiculite to improve the soil structure.


Vermiculite can be found in potting soil or purchased by itself in five different grades – micron, super fine, fine, medium and large. As a guide, one must use the smallest size of vermiculite for seed germination and then use the larger sizes as a growing medium for improved soil aeration.

Vermiculite is the name of a group of hydrated laminar minerals (aluminum-iron magnesium silicates) which look like mica. Horticultural vermiculite is processed at high temperature that expands it into accordion shaped pellets composed of multiple layers of thin plates. It will not rot, deteriorate, or mold and is enduring, odourless, non-toxic and sterile. The word “Vermiculite” literally stems from the Latin word “Vermiculus”, which when translated to English means “little worm”.

Adding vermiculite to the garden or adding vermiculite in potting soil increases water and nutrient retention and aerates the soil, resulting in healthier, more robust plants.

These are the benefits of using vermiculite –

Improves aeration

By adding vermiculite to the soil, you can improve the soil’s ability to hold and release water back to the plants. Vermiculite is also porous and so will hold high levels of air in soils which is essential for both root respiration and for the existence of soil micro-organisms

Enhances drainage

SunPerl Vermiculite is extremely absorbent. It soaks up the water and holds that water until the soil starts to dry out. It then slow releases the water into the soil.

 Acts as a permanent soil conditioner

Unlike compost, which eventually breaks down into the soil, vermiculite doesn’t break down.

Makes other minerals available

SunPerl Vermiculite naturally reacts with soil compounds and makes available other nutrients such as calcium, potassium and magnesium.

Flower arrangements

Vermiculite can be used when arranging flowers. This eliminates the need to change the water, eliminates spills and keeps blooms fresh for days.

Growing media

Vermiculite can be used in hydroponics and soilless growing systems. These are beneficial in that little or no water or nutrients are wasted or washed away. The benefits here include the reuse of water and nutrients as well as full control over watering and nutrient levels that the plants receive

Vermiculite slightly raises the pH

Vermiculite is pH neutral, around 7.0 or so, but because of some compounds found within it, it can slightly raise pH, a plus for acidic soils.

Potatoes growing in Culite V available from Sun Silicates

Vermiculite, although less aerating than perlite, is the recommendation of choice for water-loving plants.

Sun Silicates (Pty) Ltd is the only South African manufacturer that can supply both perlite and vermiculite to the industry! Sun Silicates also does growing mixes and blends – please contact us for more information.


Peat moss. Photo:

Peat moss first became available to gardeners in the mid-1900s, and since then it has revolutionized the way we grow plants. It has a remarkable ability to manage water efficiently and hold on to nutrients that would otherwise leach out of the soil. While performing these amazing tasks, it also improves the texture and consistency of the soil.

Peat moss is dead fibrous material that forms when mosses and other living material decompose in peat bogs. The difference between peat moss and the compost gardeners make in their backyard is that peat moss is composed mostly of moss and the decomposition happens without the presence of air, slowing the rate of decomposition. It takes several millennia for peat moss to form and peat bogs gain less than a millimeter in depth every year. Since the process is so slow, peat moss isn’t considered a renewable resource


Gardeners use peat moss mainly as a soil amendment or ingredient in potting soil. It is acidic (i.e. low pH, typically between 5 and 6 pH), so it’s ideal for acid loving plants, such as blueberries and camellias. For plants that like a more alkaline soil, compost may be a better choice. Since it doesn’t compact or break down readily, one application of peat moss lasts for several years. Peat moss doesn’t contain harmful microorganisms or weed seeds that you may find in poorly processed compost. Peat moss is an important component of most potting soils and seed starting mediums. It holds several times its weight in moisture, and releases the moisture to the plants roots as needed. It also holds onto nutrients so that they aren’t rinsed out of the soil when you water the plant.

Peat moss alone does not make a good potting medium. It must be mixed with other ingredients to make up between one-third to two-thirds of the total volume of the mix. Many people feel a twinge of guilt when they use peat moss in their gardening projects because of environmental concerns. Proponents on both sides of the issue make a strong case about the ethics of using peat moss in the garden, but only you can decide whether the concerns outweigh the benefits in your garden. As a compromise, consider using peat moss sparingly for projects like starting seeds and making potting mix. For large projects, such as amending garden soil, use compost instead.


Different growing mediums – from left to right peat moss, perlite and vermiculite

Whilst there’s no “one size fits all” potting mix recipe that is perfect for all plants, we believe that every gardener should learn the basics to start with.

Two recommended starting potting mixes are –

  1. 30% Horti Perlite, 30% Culite V (Medium) 40% peat moss. Add soils
  2. 30% Horti Perlite, 30% Culite V (Medium) 40% compost

Happy planting!

For more information regarding growing media – feel free to contact us with any questions or queries! Or visit our website at



Gerbrand Haasbroek

Sun Silicates is a local manufacturer of exfoliated perlite and vermiculite products. These products find application in many fields, amongst others for insulating/ low density screeds and wall plasters. In addition, we are currently developing the fire stopping grades of vermiculite gunning materials.

Sun Silicates have been in production for some 4 years in our Wadeville, Germiston factory, producing mainly the filter aid grades of perlite. A recent upgrade of our plant has enables us to produce top- quality construction grade perlite.
Sun Silicates makes use of Imported raw materials ensuring high strength and low density products. In addition, the ores we use, results in a brilliant white product, reducing the paint requirement to cover freshly plastered surfaces. Sun Silicates is also the only company currently in South Africa that can offer you both perlite and vermiculite products.


Gerbrand Haasbroek

Suppliers and producers in the tunnel and covered farming sector should not miss the Undercover Farming Expo, which will be, at the CSIR International convention centre, Brummeria, Pretoria.

The Expo is the initiative of the publication Undercover Farming, which has been focusing on intensive farming techniques and farming industries for more than seven years.

Undercover farming has become part of an international phenomena to cope with less water, higher temperatures, pollution and increased dryness of soil. With covered farming the growth season is extended and income is increased.


Gerbrand Haasbroek

Nowadays with the high and ever rising cost of electricity, one must always seek alternatives to lower our day-to-day living costs. This includes the costs of the homes that we live in.

Thermal insulation of commercial and residential buildings is of paramount importance. In fact, the Government has passed law SANS 204 which now state that buildings need to be insulated to save electricity.

So – how can you save on your electricity bill by insulating your home that is not going to cost you a fortune? Look no further than SunPerl perlite wall plaster!

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Sun Silicates (Pty) Ltd focuses on supplying high-tech consumable products to the chemical, metallurgical and agricultural industries. The company is customer and performance focused and we ensure our customers of quality products at competitive pricing.

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