Abstract: The Derjaguin-Landau-Verwey-Overbeek (DLVO) theory sums the attractive van der Waals and repulsive electrostatic forces as a function of separation distance to predict the interaction between charged particles immersed in a liquid. In aqueous media, however, non-electrostatic polar (electron acceptor/electron donor or Lewis acid/base) forces between particles with high energy surfaces often are comparable to, or greater than, the components of DLVO theory. By means of contact angle measurements on smooth self-supporting clay films, the values of the polar surface forces (AB) and the van der Waals forces (LW) of hectorite were measured. Determinations of ζ were used to derive the electrostatic forces (EL). Calculations based on the values obtained for the EL, LW, and AB forces show that for smooth spheres with a radius of 1 µm in a ≥0.1 M NaCl solution a net attraction exists leading to flocculation. At NaCl concentrations of ≤0.01 M, a repulsion energy of about +500 to + 1300 kT exists at separation distances ≤50 Å, preventing contact between particles, thus ensuring stability of the colloidal suspension. At these concentrations, theory predicts that small clay particles or edges of clay crystals having an effective radius of curvature ≤10 Å should be energetic enough to overcome the repulsion barrier which prevents flocculation. Experimentally, for NaCl solution concentrations of ≥0.1 M, suspensions of hectorite particles flocculated, whereas at concentrations of ≥0.01 M, the suspensions remained stable. These experimental results agree with the predictions made by summing all three forces, but contradict the calculations based on classical DLVO theory.