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

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The capacity to stand up to being scratched—or hardness—is one of the most valuable properties because that identifying minerals. Hardness is established by the ability of one mineral to scrape another. Federick Mohs, a German mineralogist, developed a hardness range (table 5) utilizing a set of ten traditional minerals. The scale arranges the mineral in stimulate of increasing hardness. Each higher-numbered (harder) mineral will scratch any type of mineral with a lower number (softer).

A stormy measure that mineral hardness deserve to be make by assembling a kit of handy objects (table 6). A fingernail has a hardness ranging from 2 to 2.5, a coin is a little harder than 3, window glass ranges from 5.5 to around 6 in hardness, and also a knife blade is generally in the variety of 5 to 6.5.

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

Creating a Mineral Hardness check Kit

A mineral hardness test kit deserve to be easily produced from common household or hardware item (table 6). Parents should help children make the kit. Wear safety and security glasses and gloves as soon as cutting class. All pieces in the hardness test kit have to be contrasted to one another and particular minerals through a well-known hardness.

Approximate HardnessItem
1Blackboard Chalk
3Copper penny
4Common nail
5.5-6.5Pocket knife
5.5Window glass (2 inch square; use caution do this scratch plate. Ice the edge of the glass through duct tape. You may have the ability to get this cut at a local hardware store.)
6.5Steel file or tempered steel. Try to find an old, broken or worn flat file


Luster is just how a mineral mirrors light. The terms metallic and also nonmetallic explain the basic types the luster. Table 7 lists the most usual terms used to define luster and an instance of a equivalent mineral. Part minerals that don"t exhibit luster are described as "earthy," "chalky," or "dull."


One that the most apparent properties of a mineral is color. Shade should be thought about when identify a mineral, yet should never ever be used as the major identifying characteristic.


Streak is the color of the powdered mineral, i m sorry is usually an ext useful for identification than the shade of the entirety mineral sample. Rubbing the mineral ~ above a streak bowl will produce a streak. A streak plate have the right to be make from the unglazed earlier side that a white porcelain bathroom or kitchen tile. Part minerals won"t streak due to the fact that they space harder 보다 the streak plate.

Specific Gravity

Specific heaviness is the ratio in between the massive (weight) the a mineral and also the fixed (weight) that an same volume that water. A mineral"s certain gravity (SG) have the right to be established by dividing its weight in waiting by the load of an equal volume that water. Because that instance, quartz with a thickness of 2.65 is 2.65 times as heavy as the very same volume of water.


The means in i m sorry a mineral breaks along smooth level planes is referred to as cleavage. These breaks occur along airplane of weakness in the mineral"s structure. However, if a mineral breaks follow me an rarely often rare surface, that does not have actually cleavage.


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


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

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

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Other Diagnostic Characteristics

Other characteristics may be advantageous in identifying some minerals:

Transparency - Objects space visible once viewed v a mineral.Translucency - Light, yet not one image, istransfer v a mineral.Opaqueness - No irradiate is transmitted, also on the thinnest edges.Taste - Taste deserve to be provided to help identify part minerals, such as halite (salt).Acid reaction - object reacts to hydrochloric acid. The most separating characteristic the calcite is the it effervesces as soon as hydrochloric mountain is applied. Dolomite reflects a reaction top top a freshly damaged 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 because that the acid.Magnetism - Magnetism is a distinguishing characteristic of magnetite.Crystal shape - Cubic, rhombohedral (tilted cube), hexagonal (six-sided), etc. Part crystal forms are illustrated below.