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 here and see how you did.