Can Fluorite cut or scratch glass?
The short answer is no.
While many rocks have the ability to leave an impression on silicon-based glass, fluorite is too soft of a rock to do much of anything in terms of damage.
Read on to learn more about fluorite, and why it is that fluorite cannot scratch glass.
Can Fluorite Scratch Glass? (EXPLAINED)
Where Fluorite Can be Found
Fluorite as a mineral has been in use and available for a handful of centuries.
It was first recorded in 1530, associated with being an ingredient in flux processes for harvesting resources out of other minerals.
Today, fluorite is regularly mined and pulled out of the ground in Argentina, Canada, China, Mexico, Mongolia, Tanzania, the U.K., the U.S., and Rwanda.
Generally, the mineral is common and can be found worldwide without much difficulty.
A Specific Pattern of Locality
In terms of physical variations, fluorite is not a mineral that occurs in one form.
It has multiple variations of color, depending on how it manifested and was created by geological pressures and metamorphic forces.
Fluorite can be regularly found in green, purple, and yellow variations, often influenced by the formations around the particular deposit.
The mineral is commonly found next to or in the vicinity of calcite as well as quartz.
Another key factor tends to be proximity to hydrothermal vents and channels.
The vents with the highest frequency also include a high content of lead or zinc as well.
Essentially, areas where there is a higher variation of minerals clustered together tend to be good locations to also find fluorite deposits.
Most of these situations also include high temperatures.
Fluorite can also be located near hot geological zones such as magma and lava, as well as other forms of metamorphic rock.
A Very Soft Rock Compared to Other Minerals
The hardness of fluorite is determined via standard evaluation on the Moh’s Scale.
This is applied in practice with a utility knife applied to the rock’s surface.
Technically, Fluorite scores a 4 on the Moh’s Scale, which is extremely soft compared to other minerals.
The rock is so consistent with the score, it is regularly used as a standard for the 4 score on the same scale when rating other rocks.
For example, quartz is far harder at a score level of 7.
A metal blade has a score of 5.5, which means it will easily leave a scratch impression on Fluorite, being lower on the hardness scale.
To understand the crystal structure of Fluorite, one simply needs to use a small cloth and a hammer or on a small piece of rock.
With safety goggles on, apply the hammer via impact to the rock wrapped in the small cloth.
This controls the fragments that occur from the impact as well as makes them easy to examine up close.
The shards for fluorite will have a distinct, eight-sided fracture pattern versus what is seen with other types of minerals when broken apart.
Fluorite almost always breaks into a four-directional cleavage with every separation.
Most commonly, this tends to be in a visible octahedron shape.
Naturally, when found in rock, fluorite tends to form in cube-like shapes that stick out like miniature cities with blocky skyscrapers.
However, when fluorite is extracted, it gets banged up with other rock and fractures easily, becoming very lumpy and impacted in appearance as loose rubble.
Industrial Usage and Jewelry Applications
From an industrial perspective, fluorite is useful as a source of calcium as well as fluorine.
The mineral tends to be regularly used in fabrication and chemical processes that produce products used as base materials for other assemblies and mixtures.
On the other hand, those rocks that are found with extremely vivid crystal distinctions and appearances are saved to be cut into jewelry and sample gems and used for decoration.
Consumers most often use fluorite in the form of fluoride, an extract mixed with other materials produces toothpaste, dental protection products and is regularly provided in drinking water.
Fluoride has long been known to strengthen the outer layer of teeth, especially if consumed from childhood forward in physical development.
That said, the use of fluoride for these purposes and others continue to be caught up controversy regarding the pros and cons of such public health measures, but no one can argue the historical track record that fluoride has had in saving the teeth structure of millions of people for decades.
Economics Drive Fluoride Sourcing
The world’s supply of fluoride today generally comes from Asia, South Africa and Mexico, primarily due to economics.
While the mineral can be found in other countries such as the U.S., the cost of production and distribution in those areas makes it prohibitive compared to the similar cost for the same fluoride from other countries.
Primarily associated with labor and processing, fluoride costs are dramatically lower when harvested from China and Mexico, which in turn makes these types of sources far stronger as export players than the U.K. or the U.S.
No surprise, the market for bulk fluoride goes where the cost of purchase is lower, which makes production in the more expensive countries impractical.
What samples are recovered tend to be mainly for scientific purposes or they are side products scavenged and recycled from other major industrial mineral harvesting, such as for iron.
That said, there are ventures that still try to make a go of it domestically in the U.S.
One limestone company found a big vein of fluoride and had plans to become a primary domestic source back in 2013.
Not much has occurred since, however.
So yes, fluoride is not able to scratch glass or have any function as a hard material, but it does have a significant role in general public health, industrial applications and has been used as colorful jewelry over the years.