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
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.
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.
4. Measure the hardness
by scratching with a fingernail (H = 2 – 2 ½ ); copper penny (H = 3);
knife blade (H = 5); piece of glass (H = 5 ½ ); and/or piece of quartz
(H = 7). Even better if you get yourself a proper Mohs hardness kit
hardness testing minerals
5. Break the mineral with a geological
or a chisel
to determine if
it has cleavage
kind of cleavage and fracture they are.
6. Check any other properties
- does the mineral react to HCl
acids? Test with a magnet
if it is magnetic?
Does it show fluorescence?