40 Common Minerals & Their Uses

Of the ninety two elements found in the Earth, forty of them are used in our daily lives. Some of the names are common and well known, and others seem obscure until one sees that it helps create something we cannot live without. Following is a list of those most commonly in use:

Antimony

Antimony is a metal that is used along with alloys to create batteries for storing grid power. It is silvery gray and can be found in its pure form in nature, an uncommon characteristic. 

Antimony : Characteristics, nuclear data and photo.

Asbestos

Asbestos has an unsavory reputation for causing cancer in people who work around it. It is a fibrous mineral with incredible fire retarding properties. Although asbestos has a bad reputation, when polished it becomes the well known and popular ‘Tiger Eye’ stone.

Asbestos : Answers to the most frequently asked questions.

Barium

Barium is a common element used in x-ray technology, fireworks, rubber and glass making and rat poison. It is a soft, white metallic element and alkaline.

Barium : Historical data, properties and other information about this element.

Bauxite

Bauxite is a sedimentary rock that is an important ore of aluminum. The aluminum content in it is leeched from the soil above.

Bauxite : Photos and usage information.

Beryllium

Beryllium is an alkaline metallic element that is highly toxic. It is known for its sugary sweet taste and some of its common uses are in X-rays and fluorescent lights.

Beryllium : A very thorough and technical site about this mineral.

Chromite

Chromite is the ore of chromium and is a very hard metal, and diamond is the only thing harder. This hardness is what allows a chrome finish to take a high polish.

Chromite : This site talks about its history and characteristics.

Cobalt

Cobalt is famous for the incredible blue color it imparts to glass and pigment. It has been found in meteorites and is used in invisible ink. It is a brittle metal and resembles iron.

Cobalt : This site has photos, video, charts and physical and atomic descriptions.

Columbite-tantalite

Columbite-tantalite group is a mineral used widely in technology. Electronics, automotive systems and health products like the pacemaker need this mineral to operate. It is mined in Africa and has earned the name of Coltan over the last few years.

Columbite-tantalite : Information about its role in the world under the name 'Coltan'.

Copper

Copper is a common metal throughout the world. It is used for currency, jewelry, plumbing and to conduct electricity. It is a soft, orange-red metal.

Copper : This site talks about its properties, uses and makeup.

Feldspar

Feldspar is the most common mineral on Earth. Since it is most commonly found in granite, this mineral is used mostly as a building material.

Feldspar : Characteristics of the two types of feldspar.

Fluorite

Fluorite (fluorspar) is commonly used to create fluorescent pigment and since it is very beautiful, it is used for gem material. It is mined all over the world.

Flourite : This site talks about its uses and gem qualities.

Gold

Gold is the most familiar metal to most people. It is used for jewelry, dentistry, electronics and a host of other applications. It is the most malleable metal which increases the way it can be used.

Gold : The uses, forms and photos of gold.

Gypsum

Gypsum is a very soft mineral with a variety of uses, most commonly in drywall, also known as sheet rock. It is also used as a fertilizer and road construction.

Gypsum : How gypsum is relevant to everyday life.

Halite

Halite (sodium chloride--salt) is used for seasoning food and softening water. It is also used to make certain acids, in fire extinguishers and melting ice on the road.

Halite : Photos and habits of halite.

Iron Ore

Iron Ore is perhaps as important to civilization today as gold historically has been. It is used in all sorts of construction from vehicles to buildings.

Iron Ore : History of its mining and importance in the United States.

Lead

Lead has a bad reputation for its poisoning capabilities, some of which may have been exaggerated by fear. It cannot be absorbed by the skin or breathing, but it is harmful if it touches food or drink. It was at one time used in paint, pencils and eating utensils.

Lead : The chemical makeup and uses of lead.

Lithium

Lithium is used in several applications including medication for bipolar symptoms and batteries. Lithium has become very popular with the advent of electric cars.

Lithium : This site shares the properties of lithium.

Manganese

Manganese with iron impurities can be slightly magnetic. It is essential in the steel making process, and petroglyphs were carved into it in the Southwest.

Manganese : A profile of Manganese and its uses.

Mica

Mica is the mineral responsible for putting a sparkle on many rocks. This mineral is very flexible, and large sheets of it were used as window glass in the past.

Mica : History, uses and characteristics.

Molybdenum

Molybdenum is essential for supporting all life forms because it is essential for utilizing nitrogen.

Molybdenum : Uses and signs of toxicity.

Nickel

Nickel is a common metal in everyday life. It has been used in currency, jewelry and eating utensils and is used in alloys as well.

Nickel : This site has photos of nickel bearing meteorites and other information.

Perlite

Perlite is created from volcanic rock. It is a lightweight substance with great water bearing characteristics. It is the white stuff found in some potting soils.

Perlite : Historical information and hydroponic usage.

Platinum

Platinum Group Metals (PGM) are rare and therefore expensive. They are commonly used in jewelry but technology also benefits from them. The largest source of platinum and the members of its family is from the by product of nickel mines.

Platinum : Uses and other detailed information.

Phosphate

Phosphate is necessary for all life on earth

Phosphate : The cycle of Phosphate.

Potash

Potash is the old fashioned term for Potassium. Potassium is a major component in crop fertilizer around the world. It is very important in the human body since it works with salt regulating the pressure inside and outside the body’s cell walls. It is also used in soap manufacture.

Potash : and its major uses.

Pyrite

Pyrite is commonly known as ‘fools gold.’ It is frequently seen in granite rocks where it adds sparkle. Native Americans polished it to use as a mirror, and it is occasionally used in jewelry. Its byproduct is used in ink and disinfectants.

Pyrite : Its uses, history and gem qualities.

Quartz

Quartz (silica) is the most abundant mineral on earth. It is the name for a large family of rocks including the jaspers, agates, onyxes and flints. Quartz is used in concrete, glass, scientific instruments and watches. Most importantly today, it is used to make silicon semiconductors.

Quartz : Its uses, chemical makeup and photos.

Rare Earth Elements

Rare Earth Elements (lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium ytterbium and lutetium) Many of these are used to create nuclear power.

REMs : Technical data on these elements.

Silica

Silica is used in desiccants to remove moisture from the air. It is also used in sandpaper and glass making.

Silica : Information and uses of silica.

Silver

Silver is one of the precious metals. It is used as currency and in jewelry making. It is also used in medicine due to its anti microbial properties.

Silver as an anti microbial.

Sodium Carbonate

Sodium Carbonate (soda ash or trona) is used to control the pH of products. It is used to make glass, paper, detergents and for softening.

Sodium Carbonate : Technical and usage data.

Stibnite

Stibnite is a major ore of antimony which is used in fireworks, rubber and glass making. It is minded principally in Romania.

Stibnite : Basic information for this ore.

Sulfur

Sulfur is one of the only minerals to be found in its pure form in nature. It is a major ingredient in acid rain but it also is used in wine making and fruit preservation.

Sulfur : Basic information and photos of sulfur.

Tantalum

Tantalum is used when an alloy needs a high melting point and strength. It is used in missiles, aircraft parts and vacuums.

Tantalum : Chemical and usage information

Titanium

Titanium is one of the most abundant and toughest metals on Earth. It is used extensively in human body repair.

Titanium : Uses and other information about titanium.

Tungsten

Tungsten is a metal that is stronger than steel and a high melting temperature. It is also used to make saw blades and used in welding.

Tungsten and the invention of the light bulb.

Uranium

Uranium is a highly radioactive element. It is used in cancer treatments, X-rays, military weapons and fuel for the space shuttle.

Uranium : Facts, characteristics and uses.

Vanadium

Vanadium is found in many foods and helps bones grow. It is useful in regulating blood sugar in diabetics and helps grow muscles for bodybuilders.

Vanadium and its medical uses.

Zeolite

Zeolite is known as the ‘stone that dances’. It is used in wastewater cleanup and since it can absorb ammonia, it is used in kitty litter and reducing other animal smells.

Zeolites : Basic information about zeolites.

Zinc

Zinc is essential for a healthy life. Zinc deficiency can cause rashes, diarrhea, impaired taste and eye problems. It is used to macular degeneration, diabetes and the common cold.

Zinc biological and scientific information.

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