Calcite vs Quartz: What Are They, And What’s The Difference?

Both calcite and quartz are interesting and beautiful stones, and they are some of the most popular and widely used stones in the world.

To help you better understand them, here is everything that you need to know about calcite vs quartz. 

Calcite vs Quartz (EXPLAINED)

What Is Calcite? 

Calcite is an extremely common rock-forming mineral that can be found throughout the world in all forms of rocks — sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous.

It is one of the primary components of limestone and marble, which are two stones that make up a majority of the Earth’s crust while also serving as one of the largest deposits of carbon on the planet. 

The specific properties of calcite make it one of the most commonly used materials in the world and it is used in construction, agriculture, pharmaceuticals, and more. 

In limestone, it forms as the result of precipitation of calcium carbonate and the breakdown and transformation of biological matter.

While in marble, which is created when limestone is exposed to extreme heat and pressure, calcite is formed due to the metamorphic process.

The higher the levels of metamorphism, the larger the calcite crystals can become. 

Physical Properties of Calcite

Calcite is classified as a carbonate and it is usually white in color.

However, it can also be colorless, red, grey, blue, green, yellow, orange, or brown. It produces a white streak and has a vitreous luster.

It can be either transparent or translucent.

On the Mohs hardness scale, it is relatively soft, with only a ranking of 3.0. 

The Many Uses of Calcite

Calcite has many uses, and one of the most surprising is in the manufacturing of acid-neutralizing medicines.

For centuries, calcite has been crushed and used to help neutralize the acid in soils for agriculture, and it was also used in areas where mine drainage contributed to high levels of acid in streams.

Crushed calcite helped to neutralize this effect in the water. 

For human consumption, calcium carbonate, which comes from high-purity marble and limestone, is used frequently in medicine.

When mixed with flavor and coloring, it can be made into easy to chew tablets that help to reduce acids in the stomach.

Along with this, it is also frequently used in other medications that help treat digestive issues as well as many other physical ailments. 

Along with being used in medicine, calcite is also commonly used for monuments, statues, and buildings.

Marble, for instance, is one of the most popular building materials, as is limestone.

Because it has low porosity, it can stand up well in climates that experience yearly freezing and thawing.

Its low hardness also makes it easy to shape and work with. 

Calcite and Carbon

Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that helps trap and hold heat near the surface of the planet.

It is often cited as being one of the primary reasons for climate change.

However, the processes that make limestone remove this gas from the atmosphere, and in stone, it can be stored for long periods of time.

Because this process has been occurring for millions of years, there are incredible volumes of this gas stored inside the earth within limestone deposits. 

When limestone is weathered, crushed, heated, or otherwise worked to create something, this carbon dioxide is released and returns to the atmosphere.

This cycle helps to illustrate just how intertwined the processes of the planet are. 

What Is Quartz? 

Quartz is the most prevalent material in the Earth’s crust and it is extremely resistant to both physical and chemical weathering.

Because of its prevalence, it is one of the most commonly found minerals on the surface and it is abundant all around the world in all forms of rocks; sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic. 

Its hardness and durability also make it one of the most common in mountains and sands found in deserts, beaches, and along rivers. 

The Physical Properties of Quartz

Quartz can be found in almost every color imaginable, depending on the components it is mixed with.

The most common colors include, clear, white, grey, yellow, pink, purple, green, and red.

It has a colorless streak due to being harder than the streak plate, and a vitreous luster.

It can be both transparent and translucent. 

On the Moh’s hardness scale, it ranks at 7.0, making it very hard and resilient. 

The Uses of Quartz

In terms of usefulness, quartz is one of the most widely used minerals in the world. 

As a gemstone, it is popular for use in jewelry, although it also has several industrial uses as well. 

Quartz is commonly used in glassmaking and has been used to create flat plate glass, fiberglass, container glass, and specialty glasses.

Its hardness also makes it popular to use as an abrasive, as it is able to wear down softer materials with ease.

This makes it common for use in sandblasting, grinding and scouring. 

Other uses include being used as a filler in rubbers, paints, and putty, as well as on golf courses, in sandboxes, baseball fields, and volleyball courts. 

Quartz Crystals 

Along with having uses when ground up, the solid quartz crystals also have unique properties that make them extremely useful.

For instance, quartz crystals have the ability to vibrate precisely along frequencies.

This precision is so great that it is used to make extremely accurate time-keeping equipment and equipment that transmits both radio and television signals that require stable precise frequency retention. 

These crystal oscillators were first developed in the 1920s and were later used widely during World War II.

Today they are found everywhere from watches and clocks to televisions, cellphones, GPS equipment, and computers. 

Calcite and Quartz

When comparing calcite and quartz there are significant differences that can help tell them apart.

For example, quartz is much harder than calcite, which only has a hardness of 3.0 to quartz’s 7.0.

Additionally, calcite produces a white steak, while quartz does not.

These two significant differences are some of the best ways to tell these two materials apart, even when appearance cannot. 

Two Incredible Stones

Both calcite and quartz are some of the most important stones used across the globe and without them, modern society would look very different.

If you are thinking of adding either of these stones to your collection, remember how you can tell them apart so that you’ll know exactly which stone you are dealing with.