Mineral Identification

Minerals are identified as solids of inorganic material occurring in nature, having an established chemical composition with a standard internal crystalline form. The crystalline arrangement and the chemical composition are the answer to this explanation. The differences in the minerals are because of their varied chemical composition. The mineral Plagioclase, which belongs to the Feldspar family, is an ideal illustration of the same. However Plagioclase exists in many types. Anorthite and Albite are good examples. The chemical composition of Anorthite is CaAl2Si2O8, whereas the chemical composition of Albite is NaAlSi3O8; quite similar but diverse, hence minerals of different types.

Even though we are aware of approximately 2,500 minerals that are found in the crust of the Earth, the majority of them are uncommon, with just near 100 of them in plenty. From among these 100 minerals, 15 belong to the minerals of rock-forming nature and just a few of the rest possess any cost-effective value.

Minerals are classified into groups, according to the chemical configuration.

Silicate minerals
The silicate minerals are the well known minerals of the Earth, The main ingredients of this mineral are the elements oxygen and silica. The majority of the silicate minerals is formed by the cooling of the molten rocks, either at the depth of the earth or at the surface of the earth.

Non-silicate minerals
Besides these minerals, several classes of minerals exist, which are called non-silicate minerals. Certain classes of them are formed when cooling of the magma takes place, whereas the remaining are formed after the water has evaporated and the mineral crystals are left behind or on the decomposing of other minerals.

The difference in the minerals is the result of the difference in orientation of the atoms and molecules or due to the diverse crystalline structures. Graphite and diamond are good illustrations. They both have carbon © in them. Even though the chemical composition is the same, the crystalline structure is different; this results in the difference in the minerals.

Mineral identification is obtained through inspection of some characteristics or properties of minerals, which are inorganic compounds found in the earth, in nature. Elements like magnesium, silicon, calcium, aluminum and iron have specific characteristics on account of the definite combinations in their formation, which discriminates them. This is similar to the combination of tissues and organs from cells in a particular manner, leading to the formation of varieties of animals and plants.

Properties of Minerals
Minerals are identified easily by their physical properties as follows:
Crystalline Structure
Cleavage or fracture
Diaphaneity or Amount of Transparency
Specific Gravity
Extinction angle
Electric resistance

It is possible to conduct tests on minerals by their characteristics and logical recognition is possible. By practice, it is possible to discriminate several minerals purely through their visual uniqueness. But the best method is to resolve their chemical composition and the method of combination of the chemicals to arrive at the identity of the minerals. Certain ordinary tools help you in this matter.

A magnet
An eye dropper or a small squeeze bottle
Magnifying glass
A method to test harness (a gathering of objects whose hardness, whether hard, medium or soft is established)

No definite order is available for mineral testing, however, by assessing them by ordinary visual means; it is possible to avoid other available groupings. With the aid of the above listed tools, it is possible for you to inspect their reactions with acids with dilute acids (such as vinegar) in the squeeze bottle. It is possible to inspect for hardness with the help of a bit of glass or nail. In case the specimen is too big, break it with a hammer. This explains the mineral’s fracture and cleavage pattern. With the aid of a magnifying glass it is possible to inspect the crystal structure. And ferrous metal is identified by a magnet.
Acid test- The acid test is conducted by applying drops of dilute hydrochloric acid on the mineral. In case there is a reaction like fizzling then the mineral is considered as calcite. The rock is also determined by this test.
Magnet test- In case the mineral is attracted by a magnet, then it is confirmed that the mineral has a good content of iron in it. Magnetite is a mineral that attracts metals such as marble and limestone, since calcite is the main mineral in marble and limestone.

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