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How to Identify Minerals in 10 Steps

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Step 1: Pick Your Mineral
Mineral identification step 1

Mineral identification doesn't require a lot of equipment.

Photo (c) 2011 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)
Learning mineral identification is like learning to cook. You begin by following step-by-step procedures and looking up a lot of things. But after a while you notice regularities, become familiar with the usual suspects, make some productive mistakes, and get better at it until it becomes easy and fun.

Another way mineral identification is like cooking is that professionals can go to school, learn to use expensive equipment and master the subject fully, yet amateurs can handle nearly all the common possibilities using just a few simple tools.

The first thing to do is to observe and test your mineral. (Review "What Is a Mineral?" for what exactly a mineral is.) Use the largest piece you can find, and if you have several pieces, make sure sure that they are all the same mineral. Examine your mineral for all of the following properties, writing down the answers. After that you'll be ready to take your information to the right place.

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  6. 10 Steps to Identify Minerals - Start with the Specimen

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