Often not only hand samples are
identified, but also thin sections are studied under microscope and
chemical analysis may be made in laboratories.
For a home collection though, studying a hand sample is enough.
1. Check crystal habit
and grain shape. Does this mineral have a massive habit or does it grow
crystals? Can you identify what shape
of crystals? Have a close look with a hand
Mineral habit. By Cobalt 123 via Flickr.com
2. Check the mineral colour,
streak and lustre.
If you haven't got a scratch board
(streak plate), crush a bit of
mineral powder onto a white paper and see what colour it is.
Transparent quartz and transculent pink quartz. By Orbital Joe
3. Measure specific
which is best done with a Jolly balance or pychnometre, but if you
haven't got any of them, and the sample is large enough, with a little
bit of experience you can make
an estimate of specific gravity by simply hefting the sample
in your hands.
Mineral cleavage. By play4smee via Flickr.com
5. Break the mineral with a geological
or a chisel
to determine if
it has cleavage
kind of cleavage and fracture they are.
Mineral fracture. By Orbital Joe via Flickr.com
6. Check any other properties
- does the mineral react to HCl
acids? Test with a magnet
if it is magnetic?
Does it show fluorescence?