Reactive surface area is one of the key parameters for studying the kinetics of mineral dissolution. The common practice in experimental kinetics is to normalize the dissolution rate to the surface area measured by the BET method. The relationship between BET surface area and the reactive surface area is not trivial in minerals such as smectites, which possess both internal and external surface areas, and in which the dissolution is controlled by the chemical attack on the edge surface. The present study examines two proxies for the reactive surface area of the Clay Mineral Society reference smectite SAz-1: BET surface area and the edge surface area measured using AFM. Since smectites are very microporous, their BET surface area is strongly influenced by the degassing procedure. It is demonstrated that outgassing the smectite powder at 135°C in a 15 mL min-1 N2 gas flow for at least 24 hours minimizes contribution from micropores to less than 11% of the BET surface area. Following dissolut ion experiments in solutions with a low electrolyte concentration, the BET surface area increased from 34 ± 2 m2 g-1 in raw SAz-1 to 127 ± 13 m2 g-1 in SAz-1 sample recovered from dissolution experiments. This increase in BET surface area is explained by a decrease in the average size of the smectite aggregates, and by an increase in microporosity due to the depletion in the major interlayer cation, i.e., Ca2+. As the BET surface area of the raw smectite sample includes considerably less microporosity compared to the BET surface area of the smectite recovered from dissolution experiments, the former is a better approximation of the external surface area of the dried sample powder. AFM measurements show that there is no correlation between the specific external surface area of the sample and its specific edge surface area. This observation is explained by the platy morphology of the smectite particle in which the specific external surface area depends linearly on the height reciprocal, whereas the specific edge surface area is independent of the particles height and depends linearly on the sum of the reciprocals of the length of the axes. Therefore, there is no reason to expect a correlation between the BET and the edge surface area. Our results show that the edge surface area (4.9 ± 0.7 m2 g-1) of the smectite particles cannot be predicted based on its external surface area (136 ± 20 m2 g-1). Therefore, the BET surface area cannot serve as a proxy for the reactive surface area. We suggest using AFM measurements of the specific edge surface area as an alternative proxy for the reactive surface area of smectite.