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What is a Mineral?

A mineral, by definition, is . . .

  1. Inorganic, which means that it is not made by a living organism.
  2. A solid. There is one unusual exception. Native mercury is a mineral and is the only metal that is a liquid at normal temperatures.
  3. Has a regular crystal structure. The crystal structures are described as crystal systems.
  4. Made by nature which means minerals are not made, directly or indirectly, from human activity.
  5. Has a predictable chemical formula.

Fun activity for kids

See if you can find out which of the following are minerals?

  • Cubic Zirconia
  • Diamond Fluorite
  • Galena
  • Graphite
  • Ice Cubes
  • Pyrite (“Fool’s Gold”)
  • Ruby
  • Snow

For each of these, make a checklist of the 5 points of a mineral’s definition. If it meets all 5 points, it is a mineral by definition!

Once you have finished you can click below and see how you did.