Most minerals deserve to be characterized and classified by their distinctive physical properties: hardness, luster, color, streak, details gravity, cleavage, fracture, and also tenacity.

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The ability to stand up to being scratched—or hardness—is one of the most helpful properties because that identifying minerals. Hardness is figured out by the ability of one mineral to scrape another. Federick Mohs, a German mineralogist, created a hardness range (table 5) using a collection of ten typical minerals. The range arranges the mineral in order of enhancing hardness. Each higher-numbered (harder) mineral will certainly scratch any type of mineral through a reduced number (softer).

A turbulent measure of mineral hardness can be make by assembling a kit of comfortable objects (table 6). A fingernail has actually a hardness ranging from 2 to 2.5, a coin is a little harder 보다 3, window glass arrays from 5.5 to approximately 6 in hardness, and a knife blade is normally in the range of 5 to 6.5.

HardnessMineralCommon field test
1TalcEasily scratched through a fingernail
2GypsumScratched by a fingernail (2.5)
3CalciteScratched by a coin (3)
4FluoriteDifficult to scratch by a nail (4); scratched easily by a knife (5)
5ApatiteDifficult to scratch with a knife (>5); right scratches glass (5.5)
6FeldsparScratched by a steel file (6.5); conveniently scratches glass
7QuartzScratches a steel paper and glass
8TopazDifficult to test in the field
9CorundumDifficult to check in the field
10DiamondDifficult to check in the field

Creating a Mineral Hardness test Kit

A mineral hardness test kit can be easily developed from typical household or hardware items (table 6). Parents should aid children make the kit. Wear safety and security glasses and gloves when cutting class. All pieces in the hardness check kit have to be compared to one one more and certain minerals with a known hardness.

Approximate HardnessItem
1Blackboard Chalk
3Copper penny
4Common nail
5.5-6.5Pocket knife
5.5Window glass (2 customs square; usage caution make this scratch plate. Ice cream the edge of the glass through duct tape. You may have the ability to get this reduced at a neighborhood hardware store.)
6.5Steel document or tempered steel. Try to discover an old, broken or worn level file


Luster is how a mineral reflects light. The terms metallic and also nonmetallic define the basic types of luster. Table 7 perform the most common terms provided to describe luster and an instance of a corresponding mineral. Some minerals the don"t exhibit luster are referred to as "earthy," "chalky," or "dull."


One that the most apparent properties the a mineral is color. Color should be taken into consideration when identify a mineral, yet should never be supplied as the major identifying characteristic.


Streak is the color of the powdered mineral, i m sorry is usually an ext useful because that identification 보다 the shade of the entirety mineral sample. Rubbing the mineral top top a streak plate will produce a streak. A streak plate can be make from the unglazed ago side the a white porcelain restroom or kitchen tile. Part minerals won"t streak since they are harder 보다 the streak plate.

Specific Gravity

Specific heaviness is the ratio in between the fixed (weight) that a mineral and the fixed (weight) of an equal volume the water. A mineral"s details gravity (SG) can be identified by separating its weight in waiting by the weight of an same volume that water. For instance, quartz v a thickness of 2.65 is 2.65 times as heavy as the same volume of water.


The method in i m sorry a mineral breaks follow me smooth level planes is called cleavage. These breaks occur along plane of weakness in the mineral"s structure. However, if a mineral breaks along an rarely often, rarely surface, it does not have actually cleavage.


When a mineral division irregularly, the division are dubbed fractures. The breaks have the right to be explained as grainy, hackly (jagged), conchoidal (curved), or splintery.


How fine a mineral resists wrong is known as tenacity. Tenacity is described using this terms:

Brittle - Mineral crushes come angular fragments (quartz).Malleable - Mineral deserve to be modification in shape without breaking and can be flattened to a slim sheet (copper, gold).Sectile - Mineral have the right to be reduced with a knife right into thin shavings (talc).Flexible - Mineral bends however doesn"t reclaim its shape once released (selenite, gypsum).Elastic - Mineral bends and also regains its initial shape once released (muscovite and biotite mica).

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Other Diagnostic Characteristics

Other qualities may be valuable in identifying part minerals:

Transparency - Objects space visible when viewed with a mineral.Translucency - Light, however not an image, istransfer with a mineral.Opaqueness - No light is transmitted, even on the thinnest edges.Taste - Taste have the right to be supplied to aid identify part minerals, such together halite (salt).Acid reaction - thing reacts to hydrochloric acid. The most distinguishing characteristic the calcite is the it effervesces as soon as hydrochloric acid is applied. Dolomite shows a reaction top top a freshly damaged or powdered surface. Testing for calcite, limestone, or dolomite calls because that 10% hydrochloric acid, but solid white vinegar have the right to be substituted for the acid.Magnetism - Magnetism is a separating characteristic of magnetite.Crystal shape - Cubic, rhombohedral (tilted cube), hexagonal (six-sided), etc. Part crystal forms are illustrated below.