How To Identify Minerals Yourself

Hey fellow earth enthuesiets! If you've ever held a mineral in your hand and wondered about its origins, composition, and name, you're about to embark on an insightful journey. We're passionate about sharing our expertise in geology to help enthusiasts like you delve into the fascinating process of mineral identification.

Identifying minerals at home is both an art and a science, requiring observation, patience, and a bit of knowledge. While we're always here to share our expertise and insights, we understand the thrill and satisfaction that comes from discovering the identity of your own specimens.

To aid in your exploration, we've compiled a straightforward guide that outlines the basic steps and tools you'll need to start identifying minerals. From examining color and hardness to testing for streak and luster, we'll provide you with the foundational knowledge to begin your journey into mineral identification confidently.



Knowing where your specimen comes from really helps narrow down the types of minerals that occur in and around that particular locality. You can use that info to do a quick search online for associated minerals in that area. If you don’t know the locality of your specimen, because it was given to you with no information, don’t lose hope! There are other ways you can narrow down what your specimen may be.



You are testing to see which of these items scratch your mineral or, alternately, if the mineral is scratching the item. For example, quartz is harder than glass, therefore, it will always leave a scratch on a piece of glass. Here is a link to a video that briefly shows you how to test for Moh’s hardness. Once you test for hardness, you’ll be able to narrow down your specimen to a more specific mineral type.


Streak Color

Streak describes what color the powdered version of your mineral is when scratched on an un-glazed porcelain white tile. Sometimes the streak color can be completely different than the color of your specimen, like in the case of hematite, for example. Hematite’s streak color is ALWAYS red, no matter what color the hand specimen is. Pyrite is similar, in that, it’s typically found gold in color but it’s streak is always black.

You can find porcelain white tile at a local art store or pottery studio. If buying local isn’t convenient then it can be easily found online. Performing a streak test is a simple way to help you distinguish one mineral from another!


Extra Tests

Acid tests, magnetism, luster, crystal form and mineral habit are just a few other factors that can be observed to aid in the identification of a mineral.

Many more tests can be used to help in the identification of minerals, but the locality, hardness, and streak color are the best tests. Our hope is that the next time you don’t know what you have, then you’ll know exactly how and where to look in search for answers.

Learning these can be quite comprehensive but it’s worth giving it a look online if you’ve got the time. Furthering your comprehension and ability to determine one mineral from another is our goal! And we hope you enjoyed learning something new in the process.