Rutile, when present in large enough quantities in beach sands, forms an important constituent of heavy mineral sands ore deposits. Miners extract and separate the valuable minerals (typically rutile, zircon, and ilmenite). The main uses for rutile are the manufacture of refractory ceramic, as a pigment, and for the production of titanium metal.
Finely powdered rutile is a brilliant white pigment and is used in paints, plastics, paper, foods, and other applications that call for a bright white color. Titanium dioxide pigment is the single greatest use of titanium worldwide. Nanoscale particles of rutile are transparent to visible light but are highly effective in the absorption of ultraviolet radiation. The UV absorption of nano-sized rutile particles is blue-shifted copared to bulk rutile, so that higher energy UV light is absorbed by the nanoparticles. Hence, they are used in sunscreens to protect against UV induced skin damage.
Small rutile needles present in gems are responsible for an optical phenomenon known as asterism. Asterated gems are known as "star" gems. Star sapphires, star rubies, and other "star" gems are highly sought after and often more valuable than their normal equivalents.
Rutile is widely used as a welding electrode covering.
Rutile is a part of the ZTR index to classify highly-weathered sediments
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