Titanium minerals have among the highest refractive indices of any known mineral.
Ilmenite is used :
As a furnace lining in the steel industry and also as a blasting medium. After eliminating the iron particles, Ilmenite can be further processed to produce Synthetic Rutile, which can be further developed to make Titanium Dioxide.
Ilmenite grains are often altered to leucoxene which is a mixture of several oxide minerals. It looks like a very fine-grained light-colored or brownish coating on ilmenite grains. It is used as a protective coating for welding electrodes, in production of pigments, as filler in paints to increase whiteness and brilliance, and as a source of titanium for the production of titanium metals.
Ilmenite is used as a source of Titanium dioxide (TiO2), which is a non-toxic pigment with High Refractive Index or Opacity. It possesses high thermal stability and chemical inertness. TiO2 has extensive application as a premier pigment used extensively in the paint industry. About 90% of the titanium mineral produced in the world is used in the manufacture of white titanium dioxide pigment.
TiO2 is also used in cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and even added to foodstuffs such as flour, icing sugar and sweets as well as toothpaste to improve their brightness.
Titanium dioxide is used in the manufacture of many sunscreen lotions and creams because of it non-toxicity and UV absorption properties.
Titanium metal is also increasingly being used in making sports equipment, jewellery and for advanced engineering applications.
Ilmenite can withstand extreme temperatures, and is therefore used in the steel industry to line blast furnaces.
Ilmenite's hardness also makes it very useful as an abrasive.