Mineral Background Sheet

Adapted from Women in Mining Education Foundation Activities

The following is a description of some of the Physical Properties that are used to identify minerals:


Does it shine? How much?

  • Glassy/vitreous (Shines like glass)
  • Earthy/chalky (Dull)
  • Metallic (Looks like metal)
  • Waxy/silky/pearly (Has a muted shine)

Cleavage or Fracture

Does the mineral show regular surfaces or planes? (Cleavage)

Or, does the mineral have an irregular, broken surface? (Fracture)

Magnetic Attraction

Was the mineral attracted to a magnet? Yes / No


What is the dominant color of the mineral?


When you scratched the mineral across the streak plate (the porcelain), what color was the streak?


What was the texture of the mineral? Was it:

  • Gritty or sandy?
  • Powdery or chalky?
  • Smooth like glass?
  • Smooth and sticky like wax?
  • Sharp like metal?


Mohs Scale of Hardness
1 (softest) Feels soapy or greasy
2 Scratched by fingernail (hardness = 2.5)
3 Scratched by penny
4 Can scratch a penny
5 Scratched by steel nail (hardness = 5.5)
6 Can scratch steel
7-10 (hardest) Can scratch glass

Specific Gravity

This property is the weight of the mineral relative to the weight of an equal volume of water. Minerals with a high specific gravity feel heavy for their size.