What’s A Mineral?
Minerals comes from rocks and to be considered a real mineral, the substance has to occur naturally. It also has to come from inorganic materials by inorganic it means not created by living things. Crude Oil and coal, for instance, come from the remains of plants and animals. So, because of that, they are not considered real minerals.
Fun Fact: Did you know water is a mineral? It is one of only two minerals that naturally occur as a liquid. The other is the liquid metal known as mercury.
Types of Minerals
The study of minerals is called mineralogy and scientists known as mineralogists identify and name minerals. They figure out how minerals form. They examine mineral structure and study mineral properties. These properties include how hard the mineral is, how it reflects light, how it breaks, and how it reacts to chemicals.
There are thousands of types of known minerals:
- All metals are minerals. So, anything made using metal is made using minerals.
- Anything made from clay, such as a ceramic mug, is made from minerals. Minerals called silicates are used to make glass.
- Granite, limestone, and other hard minerals are used as building materials. Colorful minerals can be ground up and used in dyes.
How Are They Gotten?
Minerals can be found everywhere. But the usually important minerals used can normally be found underground. They have to be dug from the ground and separated from other minerals and substances.
The process of collecting minerals from the ground is called mining. Typically, the desired mineral is usually found mixed with other minerals and substances underground. People called miners first have to dig up lots of rocks that contain several different minerals. The mineral being mined is then separated out, or extracted, from the others in the rocks.
Sometimes the desired part of the mineral has to be purified even further. Iron, for example, often occurs in a mineral called hematite. Hematite is made of iron combined with oxygen. Once the hematite has been mined and separated from other minerals the iron has to be separated from the oxygen.
Uses of Minerals
Mineral resources have brought about the development of regions and have brought wealth to countries rich in minerals.
Some minerals are considered particularly precious. They are valuable because they are rare and beautiful. Gold and silver are good examples. Both are valuable and beautiful metals, but because gold is harder to find, it’s more valuable.
Other precious minerals are called gemstones, or gems. Gems are mainly used in jewelry but are also valued for their hardness. People value gems like emeralds and rubies for their color. Gems are also valued for their luster. Luster is the way the gem reflects light.
Diamonds are the most lustrous of minerals. They are a favorite for jewelry. But diamonds are also the hardest of all minerals. So, they are used for things that require a very hard material.
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