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

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The capacity to stand up to being scratched—or hardness—is among the most helpful properties for identifying minerals. Hardness is identified by the ability of one mineral to scratch another. Federick Mohs, a German mineralogist, produced a hardness scale (table 5) making use of a collection of ten traditional minerals. The scale arranges the mineral in bespeak of increasing hardness. Every higher-numbered (harder) mineral will certainly scratch any type of mineral v a lower number (softer).

A rough measure of mineral hardness deserve to be do by assembling a kit of comfortable objects (table 6). A fingernail has actually a hardness ranging from 2 come 2.5, a penny is a little harder 보다 3, home window glass ranges from 5.5 to about 6 in hardness, and a knife tongue is typically in the selection of 5 to 6.5.

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

Creating a Mineral Hardness check Kit

A mineral hardness test kit deserve to be easily created from typical household or hardware items (table 6). Parents should aid children do the kit. Wear safety glasses and also gloves once cutting class. All piece in the hardness test kit need to be compared to one an additional and certain minerals v a well-known hardness.

Approximate HardnessItem
1Blackboard Chalk
3Copper penny
4Common nail
5.5-6.5Pocket knife
5.5Window glass (2 customs square; usage caution do this scrape plate. Tape the edge of the glass through duct tape. Girlfriend may be able to get this reduced at a regional hardware store.)
6.5Steel paper or tempered steel. Try to uncover an old, damaged or worn level file


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


One of the most evident properties that a mineral is color. Shade should be taken into consideration when identifying a mineral, however should never ever be provided as the major identifying characteristic.


Streak is the color of the powdered mineral, i beg your pardon is usually an ext useful because that identification than the color of the entirety mineral sample. Rubbing the mineral on a streak key will develop a streak. A streak plate deserve to be do from the unglazed back side that a white porcelain bathroom or kitchen tile. Part minerals won"t streak because they space harder 보다 the streak plate.

Specific Gravity

Specific gravity is the ratio in between the massive (weight) that a mineral and also the fixed (weight) that an same volume of water. A mineral"s particular gravity (SG) can be determined by dividing its load in waiting by the weight of an equal volume that water. Because that instance, quartz with a density of 2.65 is 2.65 times as hefty as the exact same volume the water.


The method in which a mineral breaks follow me smooth flat planes is called cleavage. These breaks happen along planes of weak in the mineral"s structure. However, if a mineral breaks follow me an rarely often, rarely surface, the does not have actually cleavage.


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


How fine a mineral resists breakage is recognized as tenacity. Tenacity is explained using these terms:

Brittle - Mineral crushes to angular fragments (quartz).Malleable - Mineral deserve to be modified in form without breaking and also can be planarization to a slim sheet (copper, gold).Sectile - Mineral can be reduced with a knife into thin shavings (talc).Flexible - Mineral bends yet doesn"t restore its shape once released (selenite, gypsum).Elastic - Mineral bends and regains its initial shape when released (muscovite and biotite mica).

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Other Diagnostic Characteristics

Other characteristics may be beneficial in identifying some minerals:

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