Chrysotile, also known as “white asbestos” accounts for 90% of the asbestos use ever around the world, and is the main type of asbestos still in use in commercial applications today.
Chrysotile is a mineral of the serpentine group classified as a sheet silicate, because it forms these flat sheets of long, thin fibers. Chrysotile is more easily woven into cloth than other types of asbestos. As you can see on this specimen from northern California, the thicker the vein, the longer the fibers. It is one of several different minerals of this type, suitable for use as fireproof fabric and many other uses, that together are called asbestos. Because of its fibers, its has been used in many industrial uses and commercial products. Chrysotile is the dominant form of asbestos by far, and in the home it is generally harmless although asbestos workers must beware of lung disease or mesothelioma that may be caused due to chronic overexposure to the fine airborne fibers of powdered asbestos, which is its most common form.
Chrysotile is not to be confused with the mineral chrysolite, a name given to off-green varieties of olivine.