Magnetic Hematite Vs. Hematite Mineralogy Geology

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Polished mineral hematite and magnetic hematite are visually very similar.
Polished mineral hematite and magnetic hematite are visually very similar. (Image: hematite beads image by Raxxillion from Fotolia.com)

It is easy to confuse the mineral hematite with the man-made material that goes by the name “magnetic hematite.” In certain forms, both share a very similar silvery appearance. In addition, both are often confused with the mineral magnetite. Hematite and magnetite are both iron oxide minerals, but magnetic hematite, though containing iron, is a manufactured ceramic material that is marketed and sold for its silvery appearance and magnetic properties.

The Mineral Hematite

Hematite is a reddish iron oxide. It can be variable in appearance, and colors range from deep red to reddish-brown and even grayish-silver. However, it leaves a reddish streak when abraded or powdered. It is usually found in sedimentary deposits, but it can also occur as a metamorphic rock. Reddish soil is due to a high hematite content. On the Moh's scale of hardness, hematite is around 5.5, which means you can scratch it with a steel nail.

Hematite-rich soils are reddish in color.
Hematite-rich soils are reddish in color. (Image: red desert background image by Blind Shot from Fotolia.com)

Magnetic Hematite

Magnetic hematite is not a true hematite in terms of its mineral content. Actually a man-made magnetic material, the content of magnetic hematite varies between manufacturers. The Mineralogy Database found that one sample was a “synthetic ceramic barium-strontium ferrite magnet.” Companies that produce magnetic hematite keep their formulas a trade secret, but they all share a silvery appearance and have magnetic properties.

"Magnetizing" Hematite

People might assume that magnetic hematite is simply “magnetized” hematite. True hematite, though iron-containing, actually has a weak magnetic field because of the way its iron atoms are aligned. On the other hand, the mineral magnetite is highly magnetic, and many often erroneously assume it is magnetic hematite (the artificial material). Like true hematite, magnetite is also an iron oxide, but its iron atoms are arranged in a manner that make it magnetic.

Uses of Mineral Hematite

Hematite is the primary ore of iron, and thus massive amounts of hematite are mined for their iron content. People have used it throughout the world and throughout history as a source of red pigment or paint in its powdered form. Some forms of polished and rock-tumbled hematite have a silvery appearance; this form of hematite has been a popular material for jewelry, effigies and other decorative objects.

Polished hematite is a deep silver and popular for inexpensive jewelry.
Polished hematite is a deep silver and popular for inexpensive jewelry. (Image: collier et pendentif en hématite image by Unclesam from Fotolia.com)

Uses of Magnetic Hematite

Magnetic hematite is mainly produced for novelty jewelry and magnets. Controversial health products using magnetic fields are also marketed and sold as magnetic hematite. These items consists of necklaces, bracelets, belts and anklets. Claims are made that the magnetic fields created by these products can relieve arthritic pain and aching joints. Magnetic healing products made of magnetite also sell as magnetic hematite.

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