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

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The ability to withstand being scratched—or hardness—is among the most advantageous properties because that identifying minerals. Hardness is identified by the ability of one mineral to scratch another. Federick Mohs, a German mineralogist, created a hardness scale (table 5) utilizing a set of ten conventional minerals. The range arranges the minerals in bespeak of enhancing hardness. Every higher-numbered (harder) mineral will scratch any kind of mineral with 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 varying from 2 come 2.5, a coin is a tiny harder than 3, window glass varieties from 5.5 to about 6 in hardness, and also a knife tongue is normally in the variety of 5 to 6.5.

HardnessMineralCommon field test
1TalcEasily scratched through a fingernail
2GypsumScratched through a fingernail (2.5)
3CalciteScratched by a penny (3)
4FluoriteDifficult to scratch by a pond (4); scratched quickly 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 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 test Kit

A mineral hardness test kit deserve to be easily developed from typical household or hardware items (table 6). Parental should aid children make the kit. Wear safety and security glasses and also gloves as soon as cutting class. All pieces in the hardness test kit must be contrasted to one another and details 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 scrape plate. Tape the edges of the glass through duct tape. You may be able to get this cut at a regional hardware store.)
6.5Steel file or tempered steel. Shot to uncover an old, broken or worn level file


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


One of the most noticeable properties that a mineral is color. Shade should be considered when identifying a mineral, yet should never ever be supplied as the significant identifying characteristic.


Streak is the shade of the powdered mineral, i beg your pardon is usually more useful for identification than the color of the entirety mineral sample. Rubbing the mineral top top a streak bowl will produce a streak. A streak plate have the right to be do from the unglazed earlier side of a white porcelain bathroom or kitchen tile. Part minerals won"t streak due to the fact that they room harder 보다 the streak plate.

Specific Gravity

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


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


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


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

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

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Other Diagnostic Characteristics

Other characteristics may be beneficial in identifying part minerals:

Transparency - Objects are visible as soon as viewed v a mineral.Translucency - Light, but not one image, is transmitted v a mineral.Opaqueness - No light istransfer , also on the thinnest edges.Taste - Taste can be offered to assist identify some minerals, such together halite (salt).Acid reaction - object reacts to hydrochloric acid. The most separating characteristic the calcite is the it effervesces when hydrochloric acid is applied. Dolomite reflects a reaction on a freshly broken or powdered surface. Testing for calcite, limestone, or dolomite calls because that 10% hydrochloric acid, but solid white vinegar deserve to be substituted for the acid.Magnetism - Magnetism is a separating characteristic that magnetite.Crystal shape - Cubic, rhombohedral (tilted cube), hexagonal (six-sided), etc. Part crystal shapes are portrayed below.