Compounds With The Same Chemical Formula But Different Structures What’s the Difference Between Rocks, Crystals, and Minerals?

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What’s the Difference Between Rocks, Crystals, and Minerals?

Is a mineral a crystal or a crystal a mineral? Rocks, crystals and minerals. What is the difference?

Before you can tell the difference between minerals, crystals and rocks, you need to know the difference between a substance and a compound.

What is an element?

A group of atoms of the same type makes up an element. The elements are listed on the periodic table, and you’ve heard of some of them: gold, silver, copper, sulphur, oxygen and carbon. The chemical formula of an element is simple. Common elements in the earth’s crust are: O for Oxygen (about 47%), Si for Silicon (about 28%), Al for Aluminum (about 8%), Fe for Iron (about 5%), Ca for Calcium, I -Na for sodium, K for potassium, and Mg for magnesium.

What is a compound?

Compounds, on the other hand, are made up of molecules that have different types of elements in them. For example, table salt has sodium (Na) and chlorine (Cl) in it. Sodium chloride is a molecule, and groups of sodium chloride molecules together are compounds. The chemical formula for sodium chloride is NaCl. (Note that there are two different elements listed in this formula.)

Now that you know what compounds are, you can understand the definition of a mineral.

What are minerals?

Minerals are made up of compounds. Table salt is a mineral with the formula NaCl. Epsom salts are minerals with the chemical formula MgSO4. Minerals have a definite and fixed chemical formula.

Minerals are solids. Liquids are not minerals, so while water is not a mineral, snowflakes are.

Minerals are formed by inorganic processes. Minerals are formed by natural processes, such as the cooling of magma underground, precipitation, and ascent. Minerals are not made inside living things. So, feldspar is a mineral, but kidney stone, even if it has the corresponding chemical formula, is not a mineral.

Minerals are made up of molecules in a repeating pattern, called a lattice. The molecules in minerals join together in repeating patterns. Common patterns are cubic, tetragonal, hexagonal, monoclinic, orthorhombic, trigonal, and triclinic.

Crystals are a unique type of mineral.

Crystals are a unique type of mineral. They are a subset of minerals. So, while all crystals (not formed by biological processes) are minerals, not all minerals are crystals. Crystals are minerals with flat faces that meet at right angles. A lot of geologic time and “growing” room is needed for large, beautiful crystals to form.

Stones

Rocks are a combination of one or more different minerals. For example, granite is a stone. It does not have the same structure. It is a magma, usually composed of feldspar, quartz, and mica. You can usually look at a piece of granite and see black mica, pink feldspar, and white quartz.

This Venn diagram

So, if you picture a Venn diagram (circles within circles), the smallest circle is the crystals, because crystals are a special case of minerals. The Crystal circle is completely enclosed in the Mineral circle, and the Minerals circle is completely enclosed in the Rock circle.

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