This black rock is a mineraloid consisting of ≥98% carbon that was first found near the village of Shunga, Russia. It was therefore called shungite. It may look like coal, but it has some remarkable differences.
The Shunga deposit where shungite is primarily found is estimated at about 250 billion tonnes and the age of the formation has been dated to at least 2 billion years.
It has been confirmed that shungite forms biologically, just like fossil fuels. However, 2 billion years ago, the plants that decomposed into fossil fuels did not yet exist, so the origin of shungite is still debated.
Due to its high carbon content, shungite is also very good at purifying water. In fact, Peter the Great, Russia’s eighteenth century Tsar, established the country’s first spa near Shunga because of this property of shungite.
In 1992, shungite was found to contain fullerenes, a carbon allotrope that, until then, had only been created synthetically.
Shungite may leave carbon residue. It is not harmful and rinses off easily.