Can Feldspar Scratch Glass? (ANSWERED)

In short, yes, feldspar can scratch glass, but not by much.

It is slightly harder than glass as a mineral, but not hard enough to make big gouging scratches like a diamond would produce, for example.

In this article, we’ll talk about feldspar (background and characteristics), so you can learn about this versatile stone.

Can Feldspar Scratch Glass? (Learn About Feldspar)

Feldspar is Everywhere People See Rocks

Feldspar is commonly referred to as a type of rock, especially given that it is one of the most common minerals available on the earth’s surface and crust.

However, technically speaking, feldspar is the name for a group of minerals that are put in the same category because they have a high content of alumina as well as silica in their molecular mixture.

They are also known to frequently include soda, lime and potassium as well.

This particular group, as mentioned above, represents the most common material found on the planet, incorporating some 60 percent of rocks that are accessible by humans or exposed.

Plenty of it is also found in clay, soil and run off sediment deposits moved by water.

There are three subgroups of feldspar as well, including microcline, plagioclase and orthoclase.

The coloring of the feldspar rock types vary considerably, which also makes it a challenge for folks to realize they are part of the same mineral group.

The rare version of Plumbian feldspar comes out with a light-gray-green coloring.

More common, white feldspar looks quartz-like with an opaque and white milky look.

Feldspar with moonstone tends to vary from dark brown to cream color.

And, feldspar from the moon just looks like a lumpy gray rock without any other color distinction whatsoever.

While people might have thought the lunar rock would be different, the samples brought back in the early 1970s cleared up the matter once and for all.

Interestingly, meteorites have very little or no feldspar deposits on them, in comparison, with much of the material burnt up in friction with the atmosphere after traveling through space.

Instead, what tends to arrive on Earth is predominantly metallic, oftentimes consisting of iron if not blasted to bits with the energy of impact.

A Lot of Deposits Easily Available

In terms of a harvested resource, feldspar deposits are heavily mined in the U.S., from the eastern seaboard to California in the west and South Dakota in the middle.

North Carolina and Virginia tend to have the biggest deposits of feldspar, with the Dakotas, surprisingly, having the least for industrial purposes.

Most mined feldspar tends to be sourced from big granite blocks as well as sands with a high content of the material.

Because there is such a significant difference between the two natural conditions, the mining of feldspar tends to take very different approaches.

Hard feldspar gets extracted in large open pit mining operations.

This is done by machine or, in more basic operations, by hand.

The typical product comes loose by explosive blasting and then breakages into smaller, manageable sizes that can be easily loaded onto transport.

Alternatively, some operations use a dropping ball to smash feldspar loose for the same effect. 

Feldspar Harvesting is Worldwide

The biggest producers of bulk feldspar in modern times, however, are not in the U.S.

Three big players in the market involve China, Italy and Turkey.

And it is Italy that takes the prize for the most tonnage produced and exported.

All three countries together put out 11 million tons of the material in 2010 out of the total 20 million worldwide, and Italy made up almost a third of that production with 4.7 million tons.

Mexico has a respectable production as well, particularly in the end product area, being one of the world’s biggest producers of flooring products that utilize feldspar.

The combination of material as well as lower labor costs makes Mexico’s flooring product export particularly attractive, especially north into the U.S. and Canada markets.

Most feldspar harvested ends up looking nothing like how it started.

The raw material is often crushed by industrial processes into small bit form or powder, and then it is processed and packaged as raw material for other fabrication purposes.

The most common form of feldspar consumers see regularly tends to be ceramic tile flooring and wall covers as well as plateware.

In many cases, what people refer to as ceramic is in fact a feldspar end product.

Feldspar is also regularly used as a production material for glass products, being used as a flux to control and reduce the temperature point for melting glass.

Finally, feldspar, when ground down to a fine powder consistency, tends to be used as an abrasive, particularly for industrial stripping and cleaning, oftentimes via sandblasting.

The feldspar medium tears into any substance that is softer and pulls it right off of its foundation, making feldspar sand an ideal blasting medium to clean off metal and other heavy equipment.

Substitutes are Possible but not Practical

Over the years and with advanced technology, substitutes have been created for feldspar, providing additional options for mass production of  consumer goods.

Those alternatives have included clay, quartz mixes, pyrophyllite and talc.

However, there’s no rush to switch over right away.

Feldspar is so widely available, it is unlikely the world will suddenly realize a massive shortage of the mineral any time soon.

Wrap Up: Can Feldspar Scratch Glass?

So, in summary, yes, feldspar can scratch glass.

However, more importantly, the mineral has a very common and reliable portfolio of uses with industrial applications, and feldspar deposits make up almost two thirds of the rock visible on the earth and exposed.

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