The Mineral Identification Key Copper, Michigan, Seaman Museum specimen

A Simple Identification Kit

In order to use this identification key you will need to assemble an "Identification Kit". Here’s what you’ll need: Most of these items are for testing hardness, and there are more listed than the key itself requires.  But when you get to the sections and have specific minerals in mind, the extra hardness tools will help you in determining whether or not your unknown has the specific hardness of one of the minerals listed.  A hardness table is provide below showing the relative hardness of the items listed.  The streak plate is used for obtaining a colored (or not) powder streak of the mineral.  Many minerals give a different powder streak color than the mineral itself.  (Such as black hematite giving its characteristic "rust red" streak.)  The candle stub or lighter is used for doing basic fusibility tests – will a chip fuse in the flame?  The tweezers keep your fingers from getting burned doing the fusibility test!  A magnet is used for testing whether or not a sample is magnetic.  A loupe is often necessary for examining broken mineral surfaces to check the cleavage.  And figuring out what mineral you have would be a waste of time if you don’t label the sample – and forget what it is by the time you get around to looking at it again.

The items can be kept in a leather pouch, a small plastic box – or anything that’s the right size and durable.  But it is a good idea to keep the kit items together in some sort of container.  Then you always know where to find them when you need them.

[ Table of Contents ] [ Introduction ] [ Identification Kit ] [ Mineral Properties ] [ Environments & Associations ] [ In Conclusion ] [ The Mineral ID Key ]

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