How To Tell if Hematite Is Real (5 Tips For Beginners)

Ore of iron has had significant uses for a long time.

The unique thing about iron ore minerals is that they’re formed in marine and freshwaters.

Iron ore, particularly hematite remains one of the mostly used minerals to produce different materials for our needs.

But what more do you know about its chemical properties, composition, and identification techniques?

You should read on to learn more about this specific type of iron ore. 

How To Tell if Hematite Is Real (EXPLAINED)

What is Hematite?

The shallow crust of the earth has minerals in abundance.

One such mineral is none other than hematite.

Not only is this mineral an iron oxide known by its Fe2O3 chemical composition, but it’s also a common rock forming mineral.

We can find it in the three common types of rocks, namely, igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks.

These are found in various locations all over the world.

This means that you can find iron oxide anywhere in the world. 

Since hematite is a type of iron ore deposit, it plays a huge role in the production of many iron and steel products that we use daily.

This is anything that you can think of, paperclips and skyscrapers alike.

The most interesting fact about iron ore is how it’s formed.

As the name suggests, this mineral combines oxygen and iron through various chemical reactions.

Iron ore deposits are found in sedimentary rocks (now) but were formed in water (then).

When marine animals breathe oxygen in the water, it combines with the dissolved iron.

As a result, hematite and magnetite minerals are formed. You can often find these minerals along the ocean floor.

And they form what’s known as banded iron formations on the floor.

The typical appearance of these rocks is iron minerals that consist of alternating bands made up of silica and shale.

The most common cause of the banding on these rocks is seasonal changes in the activity of the organisms. 

Out of these two iron ore minerals that are formed, hematite is the most important one.

One of the significant uses of this ore is to produce pigments and ballast.

Long ago, it was easy to mine hematite anywhere.

However, nowadays, there are specific locations such as Brazil and South Africa where it can be mined. 

The physical characteristics of this iron ore are extremely variable.

You can find earthy variations to metallic ones.

In addition, it has color ranges that include black, red, and silver.

You can also find it in different forms such as crystals, fiber, and oolitic.

The one common thing about its appearance is that it will always produce a reddish streak.

This has become the most important identifier for this iron ore. 

Tips for Identifying Hematite 

1. Red Streak Test

This is by far the easiest way for you to determine whether you have hematite on your hands or not.

The thing about this iron ore is that whether it’s red or silver, it will always produce a red streak.

If you think that it’s hematite, but you don’t see a reddish streak when you do this test, you should consider that it might be magnetite. 

2. Use a Magnet

The fact of the matter is that hematite isn’t magnetic.

This means that it shouldn’t respond to a common magnet.

However, there are exceptions to this test.

It’s normal for hematite to contain a considerable amount of magnetite.

Since iron ore is formed similarly, it’s possible for the two types to combine during the chemical formation process. 

When this happens, the chemical composition of hematite is changed.

And it can become weakly attracted to magnets.

As a result, you’re likely to mistaken your hematite for either magnetite or pyrrhotite.

This is why you should consider all the other identification marks before you rule it out. 

3. Hardness Testing 

Unlike other rocks or crystals that have varying degrees of hardness, hematite is different.

In fact, if you want to be certain that you have hematite, a hardness test will be the quickest way to find out.

Your hematite will crumble because it’s mainly made up of shiny mica flakes.

It will still have a metallic luster and the reddish streak that’s the key to its identification. 

4. Check the Diaphaneity

Hematite iron ore is a translucent object.

However, its translucency depends on the form that it’s taken.

If it’s an earthy form, then there won’t be much light that travels through it.

Yet, if it happens to take on a crystalline form, then you should expect the diaphaneity to be opaque. 

5. Weigh It

If you’re lucky to come across pure hematite you should expect to have it weigh approximately 70% iron and 30% oxygen.

But, you’ll rarely find it in its pure composition unless if you find it on the sedimentary deposits on the ocean floor.

When you weigh it, you should be careful of any additional weight.

It’s common for clay minerals to be added onto iron oxide. 

How Can Hematite be Confused with Other Materials?

It’s easy for you to confuse hematite with magnetite.

These are the main types of iron ore that form on the sea floor deposits.

In certain cases, chemical processes can make them to form in combination.

They end up sharing distinct chemical compositions. F

or instance, magnetite can influence hematite to become attracted to magnets.

This can make it difficult to identify each with its distinct components. 

In summary, iron ore is one of those minerals that have variations due to natural chemistry.

Yet, it’s easier to identify due to its unique red streak hallmark.

Hematite remains a very important iron ore due to its versatile usage. 

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how to tell if hematite is real