Mineral ID Kits

Thursday, January 10, 2008
As a sort of followup to my recent post about Mineral ID, I've had a couple questions about Mineral ID kits. You can find several of these kits online, usually either fairly basic and cheap ($10 or under), or the more expensive deluxe kits ($50 or more). Most of the basic kits include items for testing hardness, streak, sometimes magnetism and dilute hydrochloric acid (used to test for carbonates as they will fizz). However, you could try to put one together yourself of course. What you would basically need is:

Hardness: Penny, Glass Plate, Steel Knife, Emery Cloth, and any stones you'd want to try using for testing hardness (e.g. quartz & flourite)

Streak: Porcelain plate which you can buy individually, or I've heard that some try using a heavy piece of paper

Magnetism: Something like a paperclip or nail to see if it sticks to the sample, and a magnet to see if you can feel any kind of magnetic attraction between the sample and magnet. There aren't too many minerals you'd use this on, and most are already labeled as such, hence I didn't bother to include it in the article.

Reactivity to HCl: This I didn't bother covering in the Mineral ID blog as its more for testing limestone, a rock. However if you'd like to do this, instead of HCl, some carbonate minerals will react to Vinegar as well. (While the HCl used is dilute, it can still be dangerous - its an acid after all, so be careful with it. Vinegar is a little less dangerous, but again don't do something like putting it in your eye!) Just put some in a dropper bottle or use a eye dropper, place a drop or two on your sample, and see if it fizzes - if it does it has carbonate in it, which is in things like limestone, chalk, and marble.

Fluorescence: UV light

Everything else is pretty much done simply through observing the sample with your own eyes. A magnifying glass can help you look at your samples up close.

If you'd rather buy a ready made kit there are numerous ones online - I have never purchaed one so I can't vouch for any supplier. Just google Mineral Identifcation Kit and you'll get plenty of results!

As always feel free to contact me or leave a comment if you have questions!