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

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The capacity to resist being scratched—or hardness—is among the most helpful properties because that identifying minerals. Hardness is figured out by the capability of one mineral to scrape another. Federick Mohs, a German mineralogist, created a hardness range (table 5) using a set of ten standard minerals. The range arranges the mineral in bespeak of raising hardness. Every higher-numbered (harder) mineral will certainly scratch any kind of mineral through a reduced number (softer).

A rough measure the mineral hardness can be made 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 than 3, home window glass ranges from 5.5 to around 6 in hardness, and a knife tongue is normally in the variety of 5 to 6.5.

HardnessMineralCommon ar test
1TalcEasily scratched v a fingernail
2GypsumScratched by a fingernail (2.5)
3CalciteScratched by a penny (3)
4FluoriteDifficult to scrape by a pond (4); scratched easily by a knife (5)
5ApatiteDifficult to scratch with a knife (>5); right scratches glass (5.5)
6FeldsparScratched by a steel record (6.5); quickly 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 have the right to be easily developed from typical household or hardware item (table 6). Parental should assist children make the kit. Wear safety glasses and also gloves as soon as cutting class. All piece in the hardness test kit have to be contrasted to one one more and certain minerals with a recognized hardness.

Approximate HardnessItem
1Blackboard Chalk
3Copper penny
4Common nail
5.5-6.5Pocket knife
5.5Window glass (2 customs square; usage caution making this scrape plate. Tape the edges of the glass v duct tape. Girlfriend may have the ability to get this reduced at a neighborhood hardware store.)
6.5Steel record or tempered steel. Shot to uncover an old, damaged or worn level file


Luster is just how a mineral shows light. The terms metallic and also nonmetallic describe the an easy types the luster. Table 7 list the most typical terms used to explain luster and an example of a equivalent mineral. Part minerals that don"t exhibition luster are described as "earthy," "chalky," or "dull."


One the the most noticeable properties the a mineral is color. Shade should be taken into consideration when identify a mineral, however should never ever be offered as the major identifying characteristic.


Streak is the shade of the powdered mineral, which is usually an ext useful for identification 보다 the shade of the totality mineral sample. Rubbing the mineral on a streak key will develop a streak. A streak plate have the right to be do from the unglazed back side of a white porcelain toilet or kitchen tile. Some minerals won"t streak since they room harder than the streak plate.

Specific Gravity

Specific heaviness is the ratio between the mass (weight) that a mineral and also the mass (weight) that an same volume the water. A mineral"s certain gravity (SG) deserve to be figured out by separating its weight in waiting by the load of an equal volume the water. Because that instance, quartz through a thickness of 2.65 is 2.65 time as hefty as the exact same volume the water.


The means in which a mineral breaks follow me smooth level planes is dubbed cleavage. This breaks happen along plane of weakness in the mineral"s structure. However, if a mineral breaks along an rarely often, rarely surface, that does not have cleavage.


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


How well a mineral resists wrong is recognized as tenacity. Tenacity is defined using this terms:

Brittle - Mineral crushes to angular pieces (quartz).Malleable - Mineral deserve to be modification in form without breaking and can be flattened to a slim sheet (copper, gold).Sectile - Mineral have the right to be cut with a knife into thin shavings (talc).Flexible - Mineral bends yet doesn"t gain back its shape when released (selenite, gypsum).Elastic - Mineral bends and also regains its initial shape as soon as released (muscovite and also biotite mica).

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Other Diagnostic Characteristics

Other qualities may be helpful in identifying some minerals:

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