Some varieties of serpentine have a fibrous habit. These fibers resist the transfer of heat, do not burn, and serve as excellent insulators. The serpentine mineral chrysotile is common, found in many parts of the world, is easily mined, and can be processed to recover the heat-resistant fibers.
The use of chrysotile and other serpentine minerals with an asbestiform habit as insulators has been widespread. They were widely available, effective in their applications and inexpensive to produce. By the middle of the 20th century, they could be found in most buildings and vehicles. They were used to make wall and ceiling tiles, flooring, shingles, facing material, pipe insulation, stoves, paints, and many other common construction materials and appliances.
After they were discovered to be connected to lung and other cancers, their use was mostly discontinued, and a campaign to remove them from many of their uses began. Removal programs have been ongoing for decades and are still being done today. It has been one of the most costly removal programs in history.