Plaster is historically one of the most common uses of gypsum, both in building and construction plasters, as well as in plaster used for art. Plaster of Paris, alabaster and wall plasters are all gypsum products.
Plaster of Paris and alabaster are typically used in artistic or decorative applications, as it is far less durable and more prone to corrosion than other plaster formulations specifically for construction.
According to the Gypsum Association, over 30 billion square feet of gypsum panels are produced each year in the US. Gypsum panels, such as drywall, gypsum board and Sheetrock are manufactured from gypsum plaster, then pressed and cut into uniform sizes.
These panels are regularly used in internal walls and ceilings, and are very popular among DIY builders.
Common blackboard chalk, which was traditionally made from natural chalk, today is made from gypsum. Blackboard chalk is made into sticks and used to draw on blackboards and other rough surfaces.
Gypsum is considered safe for human consumption, and is regularly used as a food additive. It is used as a natural source of calcium, as well as in brewing beers and wines and for canning vegetables.
Gypsum is also used as a binding agent in tofu, white bread, blue cheese and ice cream, as well as being the primary ingredient in most toothpaste formulas.
Gypsum is used extensively in agriculture as a soil conditioner. Gypsum is added to soils and improves the workability and moisture retention of the soil.
According to the Gypsum Association, crops that require high levels of sulfates, such as alfalfa, peanuts, wheat, corn and cotton, are primary benefactors of gypsum used as a soil conditioner.