Most minerals have the right 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 capability to stand up to being scratched—or hardness—is one of the most useful properties because that identifying minerals. Hardness is determined by the capability of one mineral to scratch another. Federick Mohs, a German mineralogist, produced a hardness scale (table 5) using a collection of ten traditional minerals. The scale arranges the mineral in stimulate of enhancing hardness. Every higher-numbered (harder) mineral will certainly scratch any kind of mineral v a reduced number (softer).

A turbulent measure that mineral hardness can be do by assembling a kit of handy objects (table 6). A fingernail has actually a hardness ranging from 2 come 2.5, a coin is a tiny harder than 3, window glass ranges from 5.5 to roughly 6 in hardness, and also a knife blade is usually in the range 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 conveniently by a knife (5)
5ApatiteDifficult to scratch with a knife (>5); barely scratches glass (5.5)
6FeldsparScratched through a steel paper (6.5); quickly scratches glass
7QuartzScratches a steel document and glass
8TopazDifficult to test in the field
9CorundumDifficult to test in the field
10DiamondDifficult to test in the field

Creating a Mineral Hardness test Kit

A mineral hardness check kit have the right to be easily created from usual household or hardware items (table 6). Parents should assist children make the kit. Wear safety glasses and also gloves when cutting class. All piece in the hardness check kit must be compared to one an additional and details minerals through a recognized hardness.

Approximate HardnessItem
1Blackboard Chalk
3Copper penny
4Common nail
5.5-6.5Pocket knife
5.5Window glass (2 inch square; usage caution make this scratch plate. Ice cream the edge of the glass with duct tape. Friend may be able to get this reduced at a neighborhood hardware store.)
6.5Steel file or tempered steel. Shot to uncover an old, broken or worn flat file


Luster is just how a mineral shows light. The state metallic and nonmetallic describe the an easy types that luster. Table 7 perform the most common terms provided to explain luster and an instance of a corresponding mineral. Part minerals the don"t exhibition luster are referred to as "earthy," "chalky," or "dull."


One that the most noticeable properties the a mineral is color. Color should be thought about when identifying a mineral, yet should never ever be supplied as the significant identifying characteristic.


Streak is the shade of the powdered mineral, which is usually more useful for identification than the shade of the entirety mineral sample. Rubbing the mineral ~ above a streak bowl will develop a streak. A streak plate have the right to be do from the unglazed earlier side that a white porcelain restroom or kitchen tile. Some minerals won"t streak due to the fact that they space harder than the streak plate.

Specific Gravity

Specific heaviness is the ratio between the mass (weight) that a mineral and also the massive (weight) that an equal volume of water. A mineral"s particular gravity (SG) deserve to be identified by dividing its load in air by the weight of an equal volume the water. Because that instance, quartz through a density of 2.65 is 2.65 times as heavy as the very same volume that water.


The means in i beg your pardon a mineral breaks follow me smooth flat planes is called cleavage. This breaks occur along airplane of weakness in the mineral"s structure. However, if a mineral breaks follow me an rarely often, rarely surface, it does not have actually cleavage.


When a mineral breaks irregularly, the breaks are called fractures. The breaks can be defined as grainy, hackly (jagged), conchoidal (curved), or splintery.


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

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

See more: How Many Faces Edges And Vertices Does A Sphere Have ? Vertices, Edges, And Faces

Other Diagnostic Characteristics

Other characteristics may be useful in identifying some minerals:

Transparency - Objects room visible once viewed with a mineral.Translucency - Light, yet not one image, is sent through a mineral.Opaqueness - No light istransfer , even on the thinnest edges.Taste - Taste deserve to be used to assist identify part minerals, such as halite (salt).Acid reaction - thing reacts come hydrochloric acid. The most differentiating characteristic of calcite is the it effervesces as soon as hydrochloric mountain is applied. Dolomite reflects a reaction on a freshly damaged or powdered surface. Testing for calcite, limestone, or dolomite calls because that 10% hydrochloric acid, but strong white vinegar can be substituted because that the acid.Magnetism - Magnetism is a distinguishing characteristic that magnetite.Crystal shape - Cubic, rhombohedral (tilted cube), hexagonal (six-sided), etc. Part crystal shapes are shown below.