Difference Wiki

Gypsum vs. Limestone: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 6, 2023
Gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral often used in plaster and fertilizers, while limestone is a sedimentary rock mainly composed of calcium carbonate, often used in construction and agriculture.

Key Differences

Gypsum, a hydrated calcium sulfate mineral, is formed from evaporating sea water and often found in sedimentary beds. However, limestone, predominantly calcium carbonate, forms from the accumulation of shell, coral, algal, and fecal debris in marine environments.
Gypsum is softer, can be scratched with a fingernail, and is more soluble in water compared to limestone. Limestone is harder, typically requiring a steel blade to scratch, and less soluble, making it more durable in wet environments.
Gypsum is widely used in plaster, wallboard, and as a soil conditioner in agriculture. Limestone is used in construction for cement and aggregate, and in industries for steel production and pH control in soil.
Gypsum typically appears white or colorless, and can form clear, transparent crystals. Limestone varies from white to gray and can have visible fossil fragments, giving it a grainy texture.
The mining of gypsum can lead to land and water pollution if not managed properly. Limestone quarrying can result in landscape changes and habitat destruction, but both minerals can be mined sustainably with proper regulations.

Comparison Chart


Hydrated calcium sulfate
Calcium carbonate


Soft, can be scratched easily
Harder, requires a steel blade

Solubility in Water

More soluble
Less soluble

Typical Uses

Plaster, wallboard, soil amendment
Construction, steel production, soil pH control

Environmental Impact

Potential water and land pollution
Landscape changes, habitat destruction

Gypsum and Limestone Definitions


Gypsum forms as an evaporite mineral.
The geologist found gypsum crystals in the dried lake bed.


Limestone is often used in the production of cement.
The new highway bridge was built using cement from limestone.


Gypsum is a soft, white to colorless mineral used in making plaster.
The artist molded a delicate sculpture from gypsum.


Limestone's durability makes it suitable for construction.
Historic buildings in the city were constructed from local limestone.


Gypsum is known for its low hardness on the Mohs scale.
She easily scratched the gypsum sample with her fingernail.


Limestone formations often contain fossils.
The limestone quarry revealed many ancient marine fossils.


In agriculture, gypsum is a soil conditioner.
He applied gypsum to improve the soil's drainage.


Limestone is a sedimentary rock primarily made of calcium carbonate.
The cliffs along the coast were composed of rugged limestone.


Gypsum serves as a key ingredient in drywall.
The contractor used gypsum boards for the interior walls.


Limestone can neutralize acidic soil.
To correct the pH, farmers spread crushed limestone on their fields.


A widespread colorless, white, or yellowish mineral, CaSO4·2H2O, used in the manufacture of plaster of Paris, various plaster products, and fertilizers.


A common sedimentary rock consisting mostly of calcium carbonate, CaCO3, used as a building stone and in the manufacture of lime, carbon dioxide, and cement.


A mineral consisting of hydrated calcium sulphate. When calcinated, it forms plaster of Paris.


An abundant rock of marine and fresh-water sediments; primarily composed of calcite (CaCO3); it occurs in a variety of forms, both crystalline and amorphous.


A mineral consisting of the hydrous sulphate of lime (calcium). When calcined, it forms plaster of Paris. Selenite is a transparent, crystalline variety; alabaster, a fine, white, massive variety.


Pertaining to or made of limestone.


A common white or colorless mineral (hydrated calcium sulphate) used to make cements and plasters (especially plaster of Paris)


A rock consisting chiefly of calcium carbonate or carbonate of lime. It sometimes contains also magnesium carbonate, and is then called magnesian or dolomitic limestone. Crystalline limestone is called marble.


A sedimentary rock consisting mainly of calcium that was deposited by the remains of marine animals


Can gypsum dissolve in water?

Yes, gypsum is somewhat soluble in water.

What is gypsum made of?

Gypsum is composed of hydrated calcium sulfate.

Does gypsum have any agricultural uses?

Yes, gypsum is used as a soil conditioner to improve soil structure.

Are there different types of gypsum?

Yes, there are several varieties, including selenite and alabaster.

Is limestone stronger than gypsum?

Yes, limestone is harder and more durable than gypsum.

What are common uses of limestone?

Limestone is used in construction, cement production, and to neutralize acidic soil.

Can limestone be used in wallboard production like gypsum?

No, limestone is not typically used in wallboard; gypsum is preferred for its softer nature.

Is gypsum biodegradable?

Being a mineral, gypsum does not biodegrade but can dissolve in water.

Can limestone purify water?

Yes, limestone can help neutralize acids in water.

Can gypsum be recycled?

Yes, gypsum can be recycled, especially in wallboard manufacturing.

Does gypsum have any health benefits?

Gypsum is not known for health benefits and is mainly used in building materials and agriculture.

Is gypsum found in different colors?

Generally white or colorless, gypsum can have impurities that add color.

How is limestone formed?

Limestone forms from the accumulation of marine organism remains like shells and coral.

What makes limestone suitable for construction?

Its durability and availability make it ideal for construction.

How does limestone affect soil pH?

Limestone raises soil pH, making it less acidic.

Is gypsum renewable?

Gypsum is not renewable but is abundant in nature.

Is gypsum mining environmentally harmful?

It can be if not managed sustainably, leading to land and water pollution.

What is the environmental impact of limestone quarrying?

Limestone quarrying can lead to habitat destruction and landscape changes.

Does limestone have a role in steel production?

Yes, limestone is used as a flux in steel production.

What is the most common form of limestone?

The most common form is fossiliferous limestone, often containing visible fossils.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons