Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Crystal and Mineral

Crystal vs Mineral

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between crystal and mineral? Perhaps you thought that there was none at all. Well, that is where you’re wrong. There are very significant differences between these two and knowing them would help you differentiate one from the other. Shall we get started, then?

Minerals are basically, naturally occurring solid chemical substances. They are formed through various geological processes. All of them have very distinct chemical compositions, highly ordered atomic structures as well as specific physical properties that are common to them. Are rocks considered to be minerals? No, they are not. Rocks are simply aggregates of minerals or mineraloids and therefore, they do not have the specific chemical composition that one would normally find in minerals. In terms of composition, minerals tend to vary from simple salts, pure elements to rather complex silicates that have about a thousand or so known forms. Over half of the known mineral species are actually incredibly rare that most have only been found through a handful of samples with some, being known through one or two small grains of its species.

Commercially, there are many different uses for minerals thus making among the most valuable especially when it comes to industrial use. Most mineral products are either mined or grown. They have always been very important in various parts of the world as well as in early societies because of the different products that can be created through them. It is considered to be one of the most important natural resources that a nation can have and throughout history, countries have been invaded each other in order to take mineral resources from the other.

Crystals, on the other hand is a solid material which is comprised of ions, atoms and molecules which are then arranged in a repeating pattern that spans all three spatial dimensions. This process is what’s referred to as crystallization or solidification. Basically, crystals start off as liquid particles that eventually solidify. A good example of which would be rock salt. The structure of the crystal itself depends upon the chemistry of the fluid from which it is formed. Another factor that must be considered is the ambient pressure. Whilst the cooling process guarantees the solidification process, there are instances wherein given the right conditions, the fluid may not crystallize therefore keeping it in a frozen non-crystalline state. This creates material that is known as vitreous, amorphous or glassy.

Throughout the ages, especially with many of the ancient civilizations, crystals were often thought to possess spiritual properties. As a matter of fact, different kinds of crystals signify different energies which can then be harnessed through its use and by meditation. There have been studies into this phenomena and it has proven that crystals do have some sort of effect on the human body. Some have a relaxing effect on the body whilst there are others that promote better blood flow.

Crystals and minerals differ, not only through the ways in which they are used but they also differ in terms of structure. To put it simply, a crystal is a structure made up of various natural materials whereas a mineral is a material in itself. Two or more minerals can actually have the same chemical composition and yet completely differ when it comes to crystal structure. These are known as polymorphs. Crystal structure can greatly influence the physical properties of a mineral. A good example of this would be diamonds and graphite. As you already know, diamonds are known to be the hardest of all minerals and yet, whilst it has the same composition as the graphite, the latter is very malleable in nature.

Summary:
Minerals are naturally occurring materials whilst crystals are comprised of a variety of different natural materials.
Rocks are not to be mistaken for minerals.
Crystals can come in either solid or in a frozen non-crystalline state.
2 different minerals may share the same composition and yet vary greatly when it comes to crystal structure.


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1 Comment

  1. Greetings All! Could somebody with the research interest please help me. I am not scientifically trained so find the techno-language difficult.
    Q: Is NUUMITE[Nuummite?], found ONLY in Greenland, by definition a true crystal ?
    Many thanks to anyone who can help. It is rather urgent!

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