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Weighing scales Sometimes you may have two different minerals of roughly the same size, but one feels much heavier than the other. This difference in heaviness can be used to identify some minerals.

We use scales to weigh minerals.

The heaviness of a mineral mainly depends on the kinds of materials that the mineral is made of. Minerals are made up of different chemical elements. If a mineral is made up of heavier chemical elements it will feel heavier than another mineral of the same size, made up of lighter chemical elements.

In the example below 'Mineral 1' is made up of a chemical element that is smaller, lighter and more loosely packed, than the chemical element in 'MIneral 2'.

Mineral 1 Mineral 2

It is probably easier to give an example. In the picture below the piece of gypsum on the right is much bigger than the baryte on the left. Although they are different sizes, the baryte is much heavier than the gypsum and the scales balance out. Baryte contains the chemical element barium, which is heavier than the calcium, in gypsum. Although the gypsum on the left is bigger than the baryte on the right the scales balance out, because gypsum is lighter than baryte.

Weighing scales

Judging how heavy a mineral may help you to identify your specimen.

Ernest the mineral detective To find out about minerals you should Take a closer look, and then find out about some of their properties...

Colour Light
Lustre Streak
Crystal shape Hardness
Cleavage and fracture Heaviness
Other tests What we have learnt

Return to the Detectives homepage, or finish by playing Mineral mastermind!