Growing demand for batteries is leading to an unprecedented growth in the lithium industry. Although innovation in battery technologies has pushed lithium into the spotlight, lithium was not always known for its application in batteries. The primary use of lithium — prior to the introduction of commercial lithium-ion batteries in the early 2000s — was in the ceramics, glass, grease and medical industry. Before turning into its usable form, lithium products must be upgraded from its raw material. Processes for recovering lithium include: thermal treatment, water leaching, solar evaporation, ion exchange, carbonation, and electrodialysis. Presented is a historical review of lithium applications and the different techniques of converting lithium-rich minerals and brines into usable products with additional discussion on future lithium extraction processes.