Can Malachite Scratch Glass? (ANSWERED)

No, malachite on its own cannot scratch glass.

This is due to the hardness of each material, whereas glass is the harder of the two at 5.5 – 7 while Malachite is only 3.5 – 4.

In the article that follows, you’ll learn more about malachite, as well as more details about why it is that malachite cannot scratch glass.

Can Malachite Scratch Glass? (EXPLAINED)

We’ll take a look at each material individually.

First up is glass.

All You Need To Know About Glass

Even though the name of the person who invented it is lost to history, there is enough evidence to propose that glass has been in use since the 14th century BC.

Further studies suggest that the very first glass was made in Palestine.

Glass was further developed by the ancient Egyptians in small amounts to make necklace beads and items for Pharaohs and other wealthy people of the time.

Similar to diamonds and other precious gems today, glass back then was an expensive commodity that the average person could not afford.

However, despite the crudeness and simplicity of ancient glass, it would still not be scratched by malachite.

Such glass was made of silica sand, or silicon dioxide (SiO2), and that material itself registers at a 7 on the Mohs scale.

Even though some of the first malachite was used by the ancient Egyptians themselves, any scratching experiments done that far back should’ve yielded no marks on their glass treasures.

Let’s fast forward to the present again.

The composition of modern day glass still consists of mostly silicone dioxide, but also has other materials mixed into it depending on the type and purpose it serves.

For example, the most commonly-used and manufactured type of glass today is soda-lime glass.

Think drinking glasses, bottles, food jars, and even sheet glass products.

With a majority of 71-75% silicone dioxide making up soda-lime glass, there’s also 10-15% lime (CaO), 12-16% sodium bicarbonate (Na2O), and small amounts of dyes to give any finished product some color.  

Another common type you can find in your home is crystal glass.

It might come in the form of a wine goblet, a drinking glass, dishware, a vase, even an ashtray.

Unlike its more common counterpart, the chemical composition of crystal glass is different and uses less silicone dioxide.

Whereas silica sand still makes up a large portion of the mixture, around 54-65%, it also has 13-15% alkali oxide and various other oxides.

However, can either of these two common types of glass be scratched by malachite at all?

No, as most soda-lime and other modern forms register as a 6 or 7 on the Mohs hardness scale.

Glass today will need to be softer than malachite, at least under 4, to cause any scratches whatsoever.

All You Need To Know About Malachite

Now we’ll move on to malachite.

To be more specific, malachite is a green copper carbonate hydroxide mineral.

It’s chemical composition is (Cu2(CO3)(OH)2).

Archeological evidence suggests it was one of the first ever ores that copper came from.

Its primary color is a rich green that stands the test of time, meaning it won’t fade even when exposed to light.

One of the first known places to mine it was 3,800 years ago in the Great Orme Mines of Britain.

The name “malachite” was derived from the ancient Greek “molochites lithos,” meaning “mallow-green stone.”

The mineral bears a similar color to the leaves of the mallow plant, thus ushering in the modern name we know it for today.

Archeologists were also able to find sufficient evidence in Tinma Valley, Israel, to suggest the mineral had been mined to later make copper for more than 3,000 years.

As mentioned above, the ancient Egyptians mined the mineral for the same purposes, and more evidence suggests they did so over 4,000 years ago.

More modern sources of the mineral were known to be extracted from the Ural Mountains in Russia during the 1800s, whereas present day supplies of malachite come primarily from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

However, some small amounts can show up in France, Australia, and the State of Arizona as well.

In these areas, malachite specifically forms in the “oxidizing zones” just above copper deposits.

These zones can include caverns, descending solutions in fractures, cavities, and some intergranular spaces of porous rock.

A common compound it forms within is limestone, just as long as a suitable environment for forming carbonate minerals is present.

When looking for malachite minerals in the wild, be also on the lookout for other common minerals that form nearby: copper, calcite, chalcopyrite, bornite, and azurite.

Considering how the most common source for malachite is copper ore, could the copper be mixed with the mineral scratch glass?

When we look at the Mohs hardness of hardness of copper itself we get a measly 3.

Therefore, it cannot scratch modern glass with its minimum of 5.5.

You won’t find malachite in crystal form all too often, but if you do, you might find tabular and/or acicular shapes (ever heard of velvet malachite?)

The color of these crystals is typically translucent, bright green, and have an adamantine to vitreous luster.

The more common forms of this mineral tend to be opaque with an earthy and dull luster which can be found forming on cave stalactites.

In addition to copper ore extraction, malachite has also been used as a lush green color pigment for thousands of years.

The mineral is quite easily ground into a fine powder for coloring applications.

In some of the oldest paintings we know of, malachite was the go-to color to produce green hues.

Even the ancient Egyptians used malachite powder to paint their tombs.

Today, malachite is primarily used for making beads or cabochons in specialty jewelry.

However, some painters who utilize historically accurate techniques will use malachite powder to produce a green color.

So in conclusion, judging by the evidence presented, malachite in any form cannot scratch glass, modern or ancient.

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