What are minerals?

Minerals are solid substances that are present in nature and can be made of one element or more elements combined together (chemical compounds).
Gold, Silver and carbon are elements that form minerals on their own. They are called native elements. Instead, ordinary kitchen salt is a chemical compound that is called rock salt, which is a mineral formed of sodium and chlorine ions. Atoms, ions and molecules that form a mineral are present in the space in a tidy way and according to well-defined geometrical shapes, which are called crystal lattices. The structure of the crystal lattice defines the shape of the crystal as we see it. For example, rock salt or kitchen salt is a mineral formed of cubic-shaped crystals. Its crystal lattice has the same shape and consists of sodium and chlorine ions that are present in the space in alternate order.
The order of atoms in the space and the way they combine with each other determine the way a mineral can laminate or exfoliate. Lamination is the property that some materials have to break according to their geometrical shape. Its chemical composition also determines the colour of the crystal, such as the yellow colour for the topaz, red for ruby, purple for amethyst quartz. Another characteristic of minerals is their hardness, which is their resistance to scratches. Hardness is classified by numbers (from 1 to 10), according to the Moh’s scale.
At the beginning of the scale there are very soft minerals that can be scratched with a nail, such as talc, chalk and calcite. At the end of the scale there is the diamond, which is the hardest mineral in nature. ite. All’ultimo posto troviamo il diamante che è il minerale più duro esistente in natura.


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