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How to Identify Minerals in 10 Steps

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8 of 10

Step 8: Magnetism
Magnetism test

Always test for magnetism with a dark mineral—it's not hard.

Photo (c) 2011 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)
Magnetism is a distinctive property in a few minerals. Magnetite is the prime example, but a few other minerals may be weakly attracted by a magnet, notably chromite (a black oxide) and pyrrhotite (a bronze sulfide). Use a strong magnet. The magnets I use came from the corners of an old plastic shower curtain. Another way to test magnetism is to see if the specimen attracts a compass needle.

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