Meaning of Minerals
What are Minerals:
Minerals are natural substances of inorganic origin, generally solid, that have a defined chemical composition, a homogeneous crystalline structure, and mostly flat surfaces.
Minerals arise from the union of simple chemical elements, such as gold, or from the combination of several elements with each other, such as quartz, which is composed of silicon and oxygen. For this reason they can have different physical and chemical properties.
Their physical and chemical properties are variable from the geological environment in which the minerals are formed, however, the main elements that compose them are: oxygen, aluminum, iron, silicon, magnesium, sodium, potassium and calcium.
Minerals are formed when a series of chemical elements that make up a molten rock, gases or some hot solution are cooled or evaporated, so these elements are reorganized or changed and crystals are formed. Minerals have a single chemical structure.
These crystals can be affected by the pressure and temperature of a certain place, so that the same mineral can present different appearances depending on the place where it is formed.
Minerals are formed naturally and not by human activity.
There are more than 5000 types of registered minerals and a large number of these can be found on the Earth's surface in abundant quantities, for which they are extracted and used for different purposes.
Physical properties of the minerals
The properties of minerals are variable based on their chemical structure and physical properties.
- Brightness: it is the ability of minerals to reflect light. You can distinguish the adamantine, vitreous and earthy sheen, among others.
- Luminescence: some minerals have the property of emitting light and this depends on their chemical composition.
- Color: there are minerals of different colors. Minerals can be classified into idiochromatic (minerals of the same color, such as malachite), and allochromatic (their coloration is due to impurities, generally metals).
- Color of the stripe: it is the color of the pulverized mineral, which may or may not be the same as the body.
- Exfoliation: the atomic arrangement of minerals is what provides a flat surface to the minerals. However, if there is a weakness in the surface structure, it can be broken, in the same way, on flat surfaces.
- Fracture: refers to the appearance that a material has after it has been broken, and that can be splintered, irregular, earthy, among others.
- Tenacity: it is the resistance offered by the mineral to break or deform. Minerals can be brittle, ductile, elastic, flexible, or malleable.
- Conductivity: refers to the ability of some minerals to conduct electrical current.
- Magnetic properties: some minerals have the ability to attract other materials.
- Hardness: it is the resistance that the surface of a mineral opposes when being scratched by another material, generally, sharp.
Types of minerals
Minerals are classified as follows according to their chemical composition in:
- Silicates (the most abundant on Earth).
- Native elements.
- Halides or halides.
- Oxide and hydroxides.
- Nitrates and carbonates.
- Phosphates, arsenates and vanadates.
- Organic compounds.
Uses of minerals
Minerals are widely used in different areas for the production of a large number of products such as medicines, paints, cosmetics, glasses, jewelry, among others.
There are even minerals that can be used or consumed as they are extracted from nature without going through an industrialized process, for example, salt or gypsum.
For its part, aluminum or iron are minerals that can only be used after having undergone a series of processes that allow their use.
See also Mining.
Minerals and nutrition
Minerals are also essential for people's health and well-being. Minerals, along with vitamins and proteins, are necessary elements for the proper functioning of our body and metabolic balance, for example, calcium, zinc, potassium or iron.
Minerals can be classified into macro-minerals, micro-minerals and trace elements.
At present, many people choose to consume more mineral foods because they are related to their purity and nature because they contain fewer chemical components that can negatively affect our body.