Graphite is one of two naturally occurring crystalline forms of the sixth element, carbon, the other being diamond. It is a soft greyish black mineral with a metallic lustre. A graphite crystal is made up of loosely stacked one-atom thick graphene layers much like a deck of cards. These layers can slide around giving graphite its lubricity.

Graphite is an excellent conductor of heat and electricity and is relatively inert being unaffected by most chemicals. It maintains its properties even at extreme temperatures in excess of 3500°C, which makes it invaluable to industry.