Minerals are the different things that make up the rocks, the soil and the debris that is found on the Earth.  Minerals are substances that do not come from plants or animals and this means that they are inorganic materials.

Crystals of serandite

Minerals are different solids that are found naturally on the Earth and are not manmade.  These minerals can be from single elements or from combined elements.  There are thousand and thousands of elements found on the Earth.

Where are Minerals Found?

Minerals are found all over the surface of the Earth and even under the surface of the Earth.

Study of Minerals

When scientists study minerals, this is called mineralogy.  A person that studies minerals is called a mineralogist.  These scientists who study minerals have discovered and identified hundreds and hundreds of different minerals.

Schist is a metamorphic rock

Some of the more common minerals that have been found are metals.  Some of these metals include:

  • Talc
  • Salt
  • Copper
  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Platinum
  • Diamond
  • Quartz
  • Mica

What is the Difference Between A Rock and a Mineral?

Rocks are materials that have many different minerals in them, and they have different structures.  A mineral is the same for the entire mineral and are not made up of different structures.

What Are the Properties of Minerals?

Minerals have many of the same properties and that is how you can tell if something is a mineral or not.  Some of them include:

  • That they are natural and not manmade
  • They are solid
  • Inorganic
  • Have a fixed chemical structure

When minerals react

Minerals are natural and they do not get made in any type of lab.  The minerals appear in nature and are natural and not made by man.


Minerals are not liquids and they will be a solid as long as they are at a normal temperature.


Minerals do not come from living organisms such as plants or animals.

Fixed Chemical Structure

Minerals are always the same.  Even though some of them have the same elements, that type of mineral will always have those elements.

Most minerals have a crystal-like structure.

What Are the Classifications of Minerals?

There are different ways that scientists’ study and classify minerals and there are five more common ways including:

  • Luster
  • Hardness
  • Color
  • Cleavage
  • Streak
  • Specific Gravity

Scientists also will test minerals to see if they are magnetic or if they react a certain way to electricity.


When you look at a mineral and the way that the light hits it and reflects is called the luster.  Some of the words that describe luster include:

  • Glassy
  • Dull
  • Brilliant
  • Metallic
  • Shiny


When you scratch a mineral on the surface, this tells the hardness of the mineral.

Mohr’s Scale

The Mohr’s Scale tells how soft or hard a mineral is with the hardness test.  If a mineral is a 1 on the hardness scale, it is a very or even the softest mineral.

If a mineral is a 10 on the hardness scale, it is the hardest mineral.

The diamond has a hardness rating of 10 because it is one of the hardest of all of the minerals.


Color is one way that people describe a mineral, but it does not always give you enough information about a mineral because some minerals are the same color.  Some of the same types of minerals can come in different colors.


The cleavage of a mineral tells how easy it is for a mineral to break into pieces.  When a mineral is broke, sometimes it breaks up into small cubes or sometimes it breaks into sheets.  This helps to determine different minerals.


The streak is what color the mineral will be if it is in a powder form.  You can rub a mineral on a hard surface and tell the streak color by what it leaves behind when you run it on the hard surface.

Specific Gravity

The specific gravity or the SA is used to measure how dense a mineral is.  To measure the density of a mineral, water is used.  If water has a SA of 1, then the SA of pyrite might be a 5.

Types of Minerals

Minerals come in many different shapes and colors.  They also reflect light differently.  Some minerals are hard, while other minerals are soft.

Most minerals are divided into two groups, silicates and non-silicates.

Silicate Minerals

Silicates are minerals that have both oxygen and silicon.  Most of the crust of the Earth is made up of silicates.

Non-Silicate Minerals

All other minerals that are not made of oxygen and silicon are called non-silicate minerals.

Some non-silicate minerals include:

  • Carbonates
  • Sulfides
  • Oxides
  • Halides


A carbonate is a mineral that has carbon and is combined with another element.


Sulfides are minerals that have sulfur and another metal or semimetal.


Oxides are minerals that come from mostly oxygen.


Halides are minerals that have some type of halogen element as the main element.

Other Minerals

Minerals such as gold and copper are considered their own group of minerals.

Why Are Minerals Important?

Minerals are important because they help people, plants and animals to be able to live.  For example, humans have to have calcium in order to have strong bones and teeth.

Just like people, animals need minerals.  Most of the minerals that people and animals get come from foods that we eat.  Some of the foods that we eat that have minerals include:

  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Milk

Plants get the minerals that they need from the minerals that are found in the soil.

Another reason why minerals are important is because people can use minerals to help build things.  Minerals are also found in products such as cleaning products, paint and more.  Minerals can also be used to make jewelry or make up products.


When people dig up minerals from the ground, this is called mining.

More Facts About Minerals:

  • Salt that we eat is considered a halide mineral.
  • Pyrite is a sulfide mineral that is made from sulfur and iron.
  • When a scientist studies mineral they are called mineralogists.
  • Minerals that are found in the Earth include quartz, cobalt, pyrite and more.
  • Some minerals leave a different color streak than the color that they are.
  • A gem is a mineral that is rare, and they are usually cut and polished so they will shine.

What Did You Learn?

  • What is a mineral?
    A mineral is a solid rock like substance that appears naturally and is not manmade.
  • Are minerals and rocks the same?
    Minerals and rocks are not the same because rocks are made up of different materials and minerals are made up of the same materials.
  • How can you tell if a mineral is a mineral?
    There are different things that a mineral will have to show that it is a mineral such as it will be a solid, it will be natural and not manmade, it will have the same chemical structure and it will be inorganic.
  • What does inorganic mean?
    Inorganic means that it does not come from living organisms.
  • What are some ways you can classify minerals?
    You can classify minerals by using the luster, hardness, streak, cleavage, specific gravity and color test.