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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. 

5 Important Uses of Vermiculite

Gerbrand Haasbroek

Vermiculite is a naturally occurring, non-toxic mineral with an impressive absorption capacity. It is because of this characteristic that it boasts many amazing uses within various sectors. We highlight some of the most important vermiculite uses below. 

A Growing Medium 

Due to COVID-19, an increased number of people are spending time at home. If you are using this time to declutter, fix things in and around your living space, and tend to your garden, then you should know that vermiculite can help.

Since vermiculite can absorb three – four times its weight in water, it is commonly embraced within the agricultural industry. Its absorption ability makes it possible for the medium to keep plants moist and well-hydrated for long periods without any need for regular watering. This means that it contributes to sustainable farming and agriculture around the globe, all the while enhancing growth and longevity. 

A Ceiling and Cavity Wall Insulation 

High energy costs are associated with homes and businesses that lack adequate insulation. Because vermiculite is lightweight, it is easy to install as an effective means for ceiling and cavity wall insulation. It can also be treated to prevent moisture absorption, thus making it a solution that will last for many years to come. 

A Non-flammable Material 

Vermiculite has excellent high-temperature capabilities (non-smouldering/burning/melting). This protects your building from the rapid spread of flames in case of fire. 

A Low-Density Screed 

One of the most common vermiculite uses is to mix it with cement to form an insulating plaster. This plaster is known to possess high-temperature capabilities and optimal durability. This insulation reduces your energy usage both during the winter and the summer, thus making it a cost-effective and environmentally beneficial upgrade to your house.

A Gunning Mix 

A notable benefit of vermiculite is its ability to protect steel structures. When used to create gunning mixes, it provides buildings with the fire ratings that are required by law.

Vermiculite for Agriculture, Horticulture, and Construction Industry Uses 

Here at Sun Silicates, we specialise in vermiculite for sale in South Africa. Our vermiculite uses extend from the agriculture and horticulture industries through to the construction industry. For more information, get in touch with us today.

Perlite or Vermiculite for the Optimal Growth of Fruit and Vegetables

Gerbrand Haasbroek

If the goal is to optimise the growth of fruit and vegetables, you will be faced with a decision between growing in perlite or growing in vermiculite. These options promise to enhance air flow within the soil (Air filled porosity) and regulate moisture to help plants thrive. (water holding capacity) However, there are small differences to keep in mind too. Here are the benefits of each.

Why Use Perlite? 

Perlite works well as an additive to the soil, but it can also be used as a soil replacement. It can hold around three times its weight in water, and yet still aids in maximising drainage. It is extremely porous and therefore allows plenty of soil aeration, making it a top choice for growing succulents as well as fruit and vegetables that require fast and effective drainage. 

Why Use Vermiculite? 

Vermiculite can  hold up to four times its weight in water and is known to be able to trap moisture near plant roots. Unlike perlite which maximises drainage, vermiculite acts more like a sponge. The combination of the two substrates in your growing media ensures optimal air filled porosity and water holding capacity Vermiculite also has excellent cation exchange capabilities and hence absorbs nutrients form the irrigation system and then slowly releases it to the plants . Vermiculite also finds extensive use as a capping material for the germination of seeds.

Why Not Use Both? 

There is evidence to suggest that utilising a mix of both perlite and vermiculite is beneficial to the growth of fruit and vegetables. Here at Sun Silicates, due to the fact that we not only manufacture both bulk perlite and vermiculite, but we also have the ability to mix and bag in-house, we are in a unique position to supply premixed products that are custom-made to our customer’s requirements. Our laboratory facilities can also assist in optimising your growing media as we can measure the air-filled porosity and water holding capacity and thereby optimise it for your specific crop.

Bulk Perlite and Vermiculite From the Leading Manufacturer and Supplier in SA 

Now that you know the various benefits of growing in perlite and vermiculite, you will probably be in search of a reputable supplier. Here at Sun Silicates, we are bulk perlite and vermiculite suppliers that you can count on for quality. Contact us today to learn more. 

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

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

As South Africa struggles with water shortages amidst a crippling drought, municipalities announced water restrictions and appealed to residents to use the scarce resource sparingly. According to the news, we need to reduce our water use by 15 percent.

A state of disaster has been declared in eight of South Africa’s nine provinces. The drought conditions experienced in most parts of the country were a result of natural phenomenon that were characterised by below normal rainfalls and increased maximum temperatures and heatwaves. The current drought has nearly depleted several major dams and led to countrywide water restrictions.

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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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