Can You Scratch Quartz With Your Fingernail?

No, you can’t scratch quartz with a fingernail.

In the article that follows, you’ll learn about quartz, hardness tests, and other minerals that are similar to quartz.

Can You Scratch Quartz With Your Fingernail? (EXPLAINED)


Unfortunately, it’s not possible to scratch quartz with your fingernail and have it be effective.

Quartz isn’t a soft enough mineral to scratch it.

In fact, it’s one of the harder substances naturally occurring in the earth and it’s a better material with which to scratch test other stones.

Quartz is an amazing silicate chemical compound found abundantly all over the world. It’s durable, hard and strong.

On the standard hardness scale it sits at a 7, which means it’s just as hard as things like tourmaline, granite, amethyst and garnet.

What Is Quartz?

As one of the most abundant silicate minerals on earth, Quarts is essentially silicon dioxide (SiO2).

This means it’s a compound chemical that contains two parts oxygen to one part silicon.

It’s strong, hard and resistant to a number of harsh conditions and situations.

It can withstand almost any type of weather and still retains it shape under physical or chemical wear-and-tear.

These unique and enduring qualities are why people have employed it for a number of various practical uses over the centuries.

But it’s also these same qualities that make it impossible to scratch with a fingernail.

You can find quartz almost anywhere in the world and has one of the largest worldwide distributions of any mineral the earth has to offer.

It can form at any temperature and under almost any conditions.

Therefore it’s plentiful atop mountains as well as being a main component in sand along riverbeds and beaches.

What Is the Hardness of Quartz?

The best way to determine and understand quartz’s hardness is by knowing where it sits on the Mohs Scale of Hardness.

Utilizing a numeric classification, it indicates a mineral’s softness (one being the softest) to its hardness (10 being the hardest).

Quartz sits at 7 on the Mohs, which means it’s quite hard on a scale of one to 10.

But, it’s not nearly as soft as talc (1), gypsum (2) or fluorite (5). However, it’s not as hard as something like topaz (8), moissanite (9.25) or diamonds (10).

This means you can scratch any given stone with a mineral that’s harder than itself.

How Do You Perform a Scratch Test on Quartz?

There are a variety of things you can use to scratch test any given mineral to see if it’s quartz.

At the very least, you’ll be able to determine the general hardness of it.

You can attempt to scratch the surface with an iron nail, fingernail, copper penny (a real one) or a sharp piece of glass.

However, you should know the hardness of these to have a basis for understanding and comparison.

Take note of where the following materials rank on Mohs:

  • Fingernail: 2.5
  • Copper: 3
  • Iron Nail: 4
  • Glass: 5

Set the mineral onto a piece of newspaper or paper towel ensuring it sits as securely as possible.

Holding the quartz with one hand, scratch the surface with your fingernail and move onto stronger materials, ending with the sharp glass.

Understand, though, you will have to press harder than you would a pencil.

If you are successful in scratching the surface, then it is NOT quartz.

However, if the mineral scratches into the testing material, it may very well be quartz.

For instance, there will be a definite scratch in the glass but quartz will remain unaffected.

Why Can’t You Scratch Quartz with a Fingernail?

After performing the scratch test above, you will see why you can’t scratch into quartz with a fingernail.

Quartz is 7 on Mohs whereas a fingernail is only 2.5.

Therefore, it’s more likely to cut into the nail rather than the other way around.

What Will Scratch Quartz?

To scratch quartz, use something like topaz or diamond (if you can spare it).

These will provide a grated, scratchy sensation along with visual evidence.

Why Is the Hardness of Quartz Important?

The hardness of any mineral, not just quartz, is so important that this standard comes down to us from the times of Theophrastus (300 BC) and Pliny the Elder (77 AD).

It’s been the only sure way to understand what stone you have in front of you and what its potential applications can be.

Evaluating hardness of a material is one of the things that have assisted with humanity’s continuity.

Plus, it gives geologists a starting point to understand the earth’s composition in any given geographical location.


Quartz is one of the harder substances the earth has to offer.

It is therefore not possible to scratch it with a fingernail. This is because quartz has a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale while a fingernail sits at 2.5.

But, it does mean quartz is good for scratch testing other materials, as long as they have a lower hardness rating.

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Can You Scratch Quartz With Your Fingernail