No, hydrogen is not a metal. It fails to qualify as a mineral because it is not a solid, and also because it is generally considered to be a chemical element.
In this article that follows, we’ll explain more about what a substance, material, or compound would need to be in order to be considered a mineral, and how hydrogen meets/fails to meet this qualifications.
Is Hydrogen a Mineral (Why or Why Not)?
To be considered a mineral, a material would need to meet five qualifications. If the material fails to meet one of these qualifications, it cannot be considered a mineral, geologically at least.
It is not unheard of for laws to be written to call a material (like gasoline) a mineral, even though it would not qualify geologically.
The Five Questions To Ask To Be Considered a Mineral
The following are five questions to which the answer must be yes to be a mineral:
- Does the material exist in nature without the involvement of humans?
- Is the material a solid?
- Is the material inorganic?
- Is the chemical composition of the material consistent?
- is the internal structure of the substance consist and orderly?
If the answer to any of these is no, then the substance isn’t a mineral.
Quick End To The Inquiry: Hydrogen is a Gas
In general, we’d go through each of these questions methodically and logically, to get to the end result. But we know that hydrogen, for the most part, exists in our world as a gas.
A gas is not a solid, and as a result, hydrogen cannot be considered a mineral.
The reason that the phase of the material is relevant is that minerals are substances with a consistent and orderly structure. At the molecular level, a sample of a mineral taken in one place should be the same as a sample taken somewhere else.
At the molecular level, a gas is extremely disorderly in most cases, The molecules move around, and a sample taken in one place is going to be very different from a sample taken elsewhere.
What Exactly Is Hydrogen?
Hydrogen is a chemical element. It is the most common chemical element. It is colorless, odorless, tasteless, and flammable. In general, it exists as a gas, usually with H bonded to H, H2. (source)
Could Hydrogen Be a Mineral?
Hydrogen would probably not be considered a mineral even if it was made into a solid.
We had no idea (and find it super interesting) that hydrogen can actually be cooled down far enough or enough pressure is brought upon it to become a solid.
If hydrogen were solid (and it happened naturally), here’s how it would perform in the questions:
- Assuming it happened without humans reducing the temperature or adding the pressure, the solid hydrogen would exist naturally. While we aren’t aware of a situation here on Earth where this happens naturally, let’s assume for the sake of argument that it did.
- The hydrogen would be solid.
- The material would be inorganic (though others might disagree). In general, something is considered as organic if it has carbon to hydrogen chemical bonds (C-H). Hydrogen is just H by itself, and probably wouldn’t qualify.
- The chemical composition of solid hydrogen would be consistent, because it would only be hydrogen.
- The structure is where solid hydrogen (which existed naturally) would fail.
When you add enough pressure to hydrogen (and cool it), the hydrogen bonds to other hydrogen to make (H-H) molecules. These H-H molecules form up into a structure as the pressure increases, but their structure is not found to be consistent throughout.
Is Hydrogen a Mineral Element?
No, hydrogen is not a mineral element. A mineral element is a chemical element other than carbon, hydrogen, or oxygen that is a building block of living tissue.
Is an Element a Mineral?
Some elements can be a mineral, but not all elements are mineral. In chemistry, an element is a substance consisting of only atoms that have the same number of protons in their atomic nuclei, and cannot be broken down into simpler substances by chemical means.
A good example of an element that is not a mineral is hydrogen.
A good example of an element that is a mineral is gold.
Can You Breathe Hydrogen?
Yes, humans can breathe hydrogen. It has used in clinical trials to help treat patients who have suffered from strokes or heart attacks.
Humans cannot survive on hydrogen gas alone. If you were to breathe in nothing but hydrogen gas, you would eventually asphyxiate without oxygen.
Curious about whether other substances or materials are considered minerals? The answers for the following substances might surprise you: seawater, charcoal, gasoline, tupperware, concrete, oyster shell, petrified wood, and glass.
Interested in learning more about rocks, minerals, and our world? Check out our blog for our latest articles.