No, hematite is not magnetic.
The remainder of this article will give you an in depth look at hematite, what it looks like, where it came from and what it’s used for.
Hematite is most popularly known for its iron ore.
It might be interesting to realize that, irrespective of having such a high percentage of iron, hematite is not a ferromagnet material.
Is Hematite Magnetic? (EXPLAINED)
What is Hematite?
The name hematite is derived from the Greek word for blood, “haimatitis”, due to the intense red coloration found in some varieties of this mineral, which is usually responsible for the red color of geological materials.
This beautiful mineral has an extremely variable appearance.
Hematite naturally occurs in black to silver-gray, rustic-brown, or variable red hues. Its luster can range from earthy to metallic.
However, people are usually surprised to see a silver-colored mineral always produce a reddish streak when abraded or powdered.
One may quickly learn that the red streak is the most important clue for identifying real hematites.
Hematite owes its intense color to oxidized iron and magnetic interactions.
People have been using Hematite iron oxide throughout the world’s history as a source of red pigment and paint in its powdered form for centuries.
The red chalk writing of this mineral known as “pictographs,” is one of the earliest in human history.
The powdery mineral first known use dates back 165,000 years ago by the Pinnacle-Point man.
The red chalk residues are also found in graves from 80,000 years ago.
Hematite has a wide variety of uses, but no economic significance is as big when compared to the importance of iron ore Fe2O3.
This is because of hematite’s high iron content of around 70 percent, the remaining 30 percent being oxygen by weight.
Still, it is a dense and inexpensive material. Polished hematite is widely considered to be a gemstone and this form of hematite is a popular material for jewelry making.
Hematite was also used as mourning jewelry, representing a connection to the deceased.
Hematite is one of the most plentiful rock-forming minerals on Earth’s surface and along the crust.
Thanks to NASA’s discoveries, it can also be found in abundance within the soils and Martian rocks on Mars’ surface, giving the planet its reddish-brown landscape.
The most important hematite deposits on earth formed in sedimentary environments a little over two billion years ago when the earth’s oceans were rich in dissolved iron.
Photosynthesis began happening in vast parts of the ocean, and immense hematite deposits began collecting on the seafloor.
This distinctive deposition continued for one hundred million years.
This allowed for the continuing formation of several thousand feet thick banded alternating layers of iron deposits at locations throughout the world.
These deposits laterally span over thousands of square miles.
They encompass among the largest rock formations on Earth’s rock record.
As mentioned, hematite is the Earth’s primary ore of iron.
Thus, massive amounts of the mineral is mined each year for its iron content.
Although it was once mined at hundreds of locations spanning several continents.
Today, hematite is mined in some of the largest mines in the world.
Almost all of its production comes from under fifty major deposits where billions of dollars’ worth of equipment enables companies to mine and process efficiently.
Most ore is now produced at the world’s largest iron mine, at the Carajas mine in Northern Brazil.
This mine alone holds 7 billion tons of reserves.
China, Australia, Russia, India, South Africa, Canada, Venezuela, and the United States are also large producers of the mineral.
What Does Magnetic Mean?
The term “magnetic” refers to any rock or mineral that visibly shows attraction to a magnet.
That means, magnetism is the force that attracts particular materials to one another. Alternatively, it can do the opposite and repel them.
This is called diamagnetic.
Magnetism is only one facet of the combined electromagnetic force field.
Within the rock and gemstone world, “magnetic susceptibility” is the scientific term for which the amount of a rock, mineral or gemstone is attracted to or repelled by a magnetic field.
Due to a quantum mechanical property labeled “spin”, magnetism arises from the spin and orbital circular motion of electrons or electronic charges.
Quantum mechanics explains that every substance in the universe is made up of minute units called atoms.
Each atom has electrons, which are tiny particles that carry electric charge.
Spinning around and around, the electrons circle the nucleus, or center, of the atom.
This movement generates electrical currents and causes each electron to act as microscopic magnets.
In non-magnetic matter, uniform numbers of electrons spin in opposite directions, which cancel out their magnetism.
Although some rocks and minerals have electrons that are unaired with other electrons, these electrons are now free to align themselves with a magnetic field.
The result is combined total magnetic attraction.
The rocks such as hematite that don’t show magnetic attraction, don’t have sufficient unpaired electrons, and are considered magnetically inert.
Why Is Hematite non-Magnetic?
Most sedimentary iron deposits contain both hematite and magnetite as well as other iron minerals.
These minerals are often in close association, and the ore is mined, crushed, and processed to recover both minerals.
Although magnetite contains a higher percentage of iron and is easier to process, hematite is the leading ore because it is more abundant in deposits in most parts of the world.
Despite the fact that hematite is iron containing, it has a very weak or nonexistent magnetic field because of the way its iron atoms align.
The presence of a small percentage of other chemicals and elements alters the magnetic properties and electronic configuration of hematite.
Unlike magnetite, hematite shows a very weak response, and it is not noticeably attracted to an average magnet.
Hematite is an antiferromagnetic mineral below the Morin transition at 255 K, and at 948 K it is paramagnetic, meaning hematite does not display any magnetism.
Because Hematite is not magnetic, we do not expect it to respond to a traditional magnet.
However, the exact formulation of hematite differs from sample to sample, and some are made up of enough magnetite that they will be attracted to a magnet.
This can lead to an incorrect assumption that the hematite specimen is magnetite or pyrrhotite.
The inspector must check other properties such as the red streak test to make a proper identification.