Raw material

What is the raw material?

Raw material is any material that is extracted from nature and that, after going through a transformation process, is used to produce consumer goods, products or energy.

There are different types of raw materials that are classified based on their origin (animal, vegetable, fossil, mineral) or their origin (renewable or non-renewable).

The raw materials include raw materials, those that can be used in their natural state. They are obtained through agriculture, livestock, fishing or mining. For example, vegetables, fruits, fish, meat or sand.

Raw materials are of utmost importance for the primary sector, where the process of production of goods or services begins. They are also part of the wealth of a country and constitute an important base in the global economy.

The extraction and use of raw materials depends on various factors. Some are affected by climate change. For example, when there is an extreme dry season, this can negatively affect the cultivation of corn or soybeans.

On the other hand, its use also depends on the secondary production sector. Many of these materials must go through a transformation process to be used in the production of various products. If the transformation cost is high, it may not be used, as it increases the price of the final product.

For example, steel is derived from the alloy of iron and carbon, a material widely used to make tools at an affordable production cost.

The main raw material producing countries are located in Africa, America and Asia, from where they are exported to the rest of the world. The United States of America stands out for producing corn, Russia for extracting gold and Chile for extracting copper.

Types of raw material

There are different types of raw materials that are grouped according to their origin, their availability or the industrial transformation process to which they must undergo.

By its origin

  • Plant origin: they are obtained from plants and many can be used in their natural state. For example: cotton, wood, cork, seeds, cereals, vegetables, fruits, sugar cane, spices, coffee, corn, among others. From these you can obtain wood for the manufacture of furniture.
  • Animal origin: they come from animals and can be used in their natural state. For example: hides, leathers, silks, meats, fats, milk, honey, wool, pearls, feathers, among others. From these you can get foods such as butter or shoes made of leather.
  • Mineral origin: they originate from the various natural processes that occur on Earth and some can be used in their natural state. For example: gold, silver, diamond, copper, iron, marble, tin, granite, sand, clay, among others. They are used to make jewelry, or pieces to cover walls or floors.
  • Fossil origin: they are generated from organic waste and various natural processes. For example: oil, natural gas, coal, among others. From these raw materials fuels are obtained for vehicles or for factories where many of the raw materials are also processed.
  • Liquid or gaseous origin: they are, for example: water, hydrogen, air. They are used for agricultural activity, obtaining fertilizers, nitrogen, among others.

For its availability

  • Super abundant raw materials: they are those that, as their name indicates, are abundant in large quantities and, to a large extent, are chemical elements. However, they are not necessarily renewable. For example: oxygen, water, iron, silicon, aluminum, potassium, titanium, calcium, among others.
  • Renewable raw material: are those that are replenished naturally and are characterized by being inexhaustible. For example: solar energy, plant resources, hydrogen, air, among others.
  • Non-renewable raw material: these are those whose reserves are limited and given their use are at risk of being depleted. The clearest example is that of oil, a raw material from which various products for daily use are obtained.

For its transformation process

  • Raw raw materials: are those that can be used without previously going through a transformation process. For example, wood, sand, stone, leather, cotton, water, among others.
  • Processed raw materials: are those that to be used and take full advantage of their uses, must go through a transformation process. For example, glass, paper, fibers, among others.