"We must have a proper concern for the best things." - Joseph Elkinton, 1861

A History of PQ Corporation

PQ Corporation traces its beginnings to a family soap and candle business opened in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by Joseph Elkinton in 1831. The original company, Philadelphia Quartz, began producing and selling "silicate of soda", or sodium silicate in 1861 as a builder to replace rosin in soap formulations.

Sodium silicate was made then as now by fusing sand and sodium carbonate in a high temperature furnace. Today, silicates are used in a diverse portfolio of applications. They are used in the manufacture of high-end fluidized catalytic cracking catalysts, complex silica gels for removal of impurities from foods and beverages and as a base for the manufacture of precipitated silica for tires, toothpaste and tennis shoes. The environmentally friendly nature of silicate makes it the perfect solution for on and off shore drilling fluid applications as well as for treatment of our municipal water sources. There is no doubt that the applications for this versatile product will continue to expand in the future. 

In the twentieth century, PQ has grown both by development of new products derived from its soluble silicates and by joint ventures and acquisitions. Through its research and development efforts, PQ has introduced novel products, including silica gels, silica catalysts, hollow microspheres, synthetic zeolites, zeolite catalysts, and other silica derivatives. Today PQ markets more than 40 distinct, silica based chemical and performance product lines.

Magnesium sulfate, or Epsom salt, was added to the product line in 1987. PQ's Epsom salt is an analgesic soak and a key ingredient in many luxury bath products. Manufactured in the United States and Canada, magnesium sulfate is used in numerous industrial applications, such as in the delignification and bleaching of woodpulp for paper, adhesives, textile finishing and in detergent formulations. Magnesium sulfate is also a key component in livestock feeds and commercial fertilizers.

Today, with headquarters in Malvern, PA, PQ is the world's largest global producer of soluble silicates.

The company changed its name from Philadelphia Quartz Company to PQ Corporation in 1978. Privately held for over 173 years, PQ was acquired in 2007 by The Carlyle Group, a global private equity investment firm. PQ's goal moving forward in the new century remains the same as it was in 1831... to provide the best solutions available for its customers.

View PQ's historical timeline here.

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