Selenite vs Gypsum: Are They Really Different?

When it comes to all the different rocks, minerals, and crystals that can be found in nature, it is very easy to get confused about which are which and not be sure about the ones that look close to each other.

One such example is the difference between the minerals selenite and gypsum.

Selenite vs Gypsum: The Facts

There are many rocks and minerals in the world, and those who are just beginning their research into them might not realize how deep it is.

Stones are formed in different ways; they have families and an entire scientific profession dedicated to them.

Even with all this information and study, there are many that still look alike and could cause confusion.

So what are these minerals, and what are the differences between them?

Let’s dive into it and the difference between selenite vs gypsum.

What is Gypsum?

To begin to understand the difference between these two pieces of earth, it is crucial to understand what gypsum is.

Gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral that is made up of calcium sulfate dihydrate specially blended into a specific formula by natural pressures.

It is a fine grain crystal that is very common with a silky or waxy luster.

Though found to be quite common, this mineral is essential to the modern era due to be not only being a soft material but able to help with many parts of everyday life.

Gypsum is mined around the world to be used in but not limited to fertilizer, plaster, sidewalk chalk, and drywall.

The fine-grain version of gypsum with a light tint was known as alabaster and famous in Ancient Egypt, Rome, and the Byzantine Empire.

Without realizing it, you may have encountered it quite often.

Gypsum is colorless at times, but it is also white, gray with yellow, red, and brown shades mixed in. In some parts of the stone, it can look shiny and pearly.

See Also: Is Gypsum a Metal?

What is Selenite, then?

Selenite is also a mineral that is composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate with a different chemical composition than gypsum.

Its luster is described as pearly and has a much stronger tolerance to breakage than gypsum.

In many cases, selenite is transparent or colorless, unlike its gypsum counterpart.

Selenite is also a common mineral that can be found much like its counterpart gypsum.

Selenite can be found all over the world but mostly appears in Poland, Mexico, Russia, Greece, Japan, Australia, Brazil, United States, and Argentina.

Many of these countries have mining companies’ setup to dig and extract this useful material from the ground.

In 2019, Mexico was one of the largest exporters of selenite, providing it to countries that require it for research, products, and research.

The Things That Selenite and Gypsum Have In Common.

What might surprise you is that selenite and gypsum are actually the same things, but they are also not.

Selenite is actually a crystallized form of gypsum that can be found in caves and mines.

In actuality, the largest crystal ever discovered in the world was made out of selenite!

Selenite and gypsum share a common material with only their chemical formulas being different.

They can be found in the same mines and are both considered valuable in their own right but for many various reasons, which we will go into more detail later.

Gypsum is also a family of minerals, with selenite being only one sibling.

Gypsum can also form satin spar, desert rose, and others dependent on the crystal habitat.

And What Are The differences Between Gypsum and Selenite?

Besides being a crystallized version of gypsum, selenite is different in the way that it is not used in the modern world to help with construction but is actually considered an essential part of the belief of crystal healing and is in high regard for its beauty and perceived ability to heal.

It could be said that the difference between the two is how they are used by the world, with one being a primary part of construction while the other carries religious significance among groups of the world.

With selenite, you can easily identify what it is as it is a beautiful white and glassy. 

You can actually scratch the surface of it with your fingernail as the surface is only a 2 on the Mohs hardness scale for minerals.

Gypsum can be identified with the opposite as it is a rough surface that you can scratch with your fingernail and get a powdery residue.

You can commonly find gypsum in filler for driveways along with talc and sandstone.

Gypsum will not be clear and look more like white rock.

It only has 1.5 on the Mohs hardness scale.

Selenite has recently found some possible medical usage besides its religious affiliation with selenite’s chemoprotective properties in relation to colon cancer.

Some small tests have shown that taking selenite has shown to suppress the metabolism of glutamine, but this is still under medical evaluation.

So, Where Is Most Of The Confusion Between Selenite and Gypsum?

After getting to this point, you might be wondering why anyone would confuse these two, but it actually happens.

Besides being just the non-crystallized and crystallized form of gypsum, the confusion is that people do not realize they are related and consider them two separate groups.

These two minerals look different but are essentially cousins from the same family with completely different uses in society.

So, now you know.

Though this is only a small dive into the fascinating world of minerals and rocks, there is much more that we could go into.

From the hobbyist geologist to the professionals or those seeking possible alternative healing from an ancient mineral, there is much more to research and discover.

The world of geology is always providing new and incredible insights.

As the years move on, society finds more uses for these minerals, from possible medical applications to refined applications in construction and material making.

It is important to tell gypsum and selenite apart because each serves its own purpose, and as you learn more, you can see the abundance and help nature provides our daily lives.

Interested in learning more about selenite? Try:

Selenite vs Gypsum