Mohs Hardness Scale

Mohs scale of mineral hardness-GeologyPage

The Mohs scale of mineral hardness is a qualitative ordinal scale that characterizes the scratch resistance of various minerals through the ability of a harder material to scratch a softer material. It was created in 1812 by the German geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Mohs and is one of several definitions of hardness in materials science, some of which are more quantitative.

The method of comparing hardness by seeing which minerals can visibly scratch others, however, is of great antiquity, having been mentioned by Theophrastus in his treatise On Stones, c. 300 BC, followed by Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia, c. 77 AD. While greatly facilitating the identification of minerals in the field, the Mohs scale does not show how well hard materials perform in an industrial setting.

About Hardness Tests

The hardness test developed by Friedrich Mohs was the first known test to assess resistance of a material to scratching. It is a very simple but inexact comparative test. Perhaps its simplicity has enabled it to become the most widely used hardness test.

Since the Mohs Scale was developed in 1812, many different hardness tests have been invented. These include tests by Brinell, Knoop, Rockwell, Shore and Vickers. Each of these tests uses a tiny “indenter” that is applied to the material being tested with a carefully measured amount of force. Then the size or the depth of the indentation and the amount of force are used to calculate a hardness value.

Because each of these tests uses a different apparatus and different calculations they can not be directly compared to one another. So if the Knoop hardness test was done the number is usually reported as a “Knoop hardness”. For this reason, Mohs hardness test results should also be reported as a “Mohs hardness.”

Why are there so many different hardness tests? The type of test used is determined by the size, shape and other characteristics of the specimens being tested. Although these tests are quite different from the Mohs test there is some correlation between them.

Usage

Despite its simplicity and lack of precision, the Mohs scale is highly relevant for field geologists, who use the scale to roughly identify minerals using scratch kits. The Mohs scale hardness of minerals can be commonly found in reference sheets. Reference materials may be expected to have a uniform Mohs hardness.

Minerals

The Mohs scale of mineral hardness is based on the ability of one natural sample of mineral to scratch another mineral visibly. The samples of matter used by Mohs are all different minerals. Minerals are pure substances found in nature. Rocks are made up of one or more minerals.

As the hardest known naturally occurring substance when the scale was designed, diamonds are at the top of the scale. The hardness of a material is measured against the scale by finding the hardest material that the given material can scratch, and/or the softest material that can scratch the given material. For example, if some material is scratched by apatite but not by fluorite, its hardness on the Mohs scale would fall between 4 and 5.

“Scratching” a material for the purposes of the Mohs scale means creating non-elastic dislocations visible to the naked eye. Frequently, materials that are lower on the Mohs scale can create microscopic, non-elastic dislocations on materials that have a higher Mohs number. While these microscopic dislocations are permanent and sometimes detrimental to the harder material’s structural integrity, they are not considered “scratches” for the determination of a Mohs scale number.

The Mohs scale is a purely ordinal scale. For example, corundum (9) is twice as hard as topaz (8), but diamond (10) is four times as hard as corundum. The table below shows the comparison with the absolute hardness measured by a sclerometer, with pictorial examples.

Mohs Hardness Scale

 

Mohs Hardness Scale
Mineral
Hardness
Talc
1
Gypsum
2
Calcite
3
Fluorite
4
Apatite
5
Orthoclase
6
Quartz
7
Topaz
8
Corundum
9
Diamond
10

 

Mohs Hardness of Common Minerals

Alphabetical
Mineral
Mohs Hardness
Anhydrite 3 to 3.5
Apatite 5
Arsenopyrite 5.5 to 6
Augite 5.5 to 6
Azurite 3.5 to 4
Barite 2.5 to 3.5
Bauxite 1 to 3
Beryl 7.5 to 8
Biotite 2.5 to 3
Bornite 3 to 3.25
Calcite 3
Cassiterite 6 to 7
Chalcocite 2.5 to 3
Chalcopyrite 3.5 to 4
Chlorite 2 to 2.5
Chromite 5.5 to 6
Chrysoberyl 8.5
Cinnabar 2 to 2.5
Copper 2.5 to 3
Cordierite 7 to 7.5
Corundum 9
Cuprite 3.5 to 4
Diamond 10
Diopside 5.5 to 6.5
Dolomite 3.5 to 4
Enstatite 5 to 6
Epidote 6 to 7
Fluorite 4
Galena 2.5 to 2.75
Garnet 6.5 to 7.5
Glauconite 2
Gold 2.5 to 3
Graphite 1 to 2
Gypsum 1.5 to 2
Halite 2 to 2.5
Hematite 5 to 6.5
Hornblende 5 to 6
Ilmenite 5 to 6
Jadeite 6.5 to 7
Kyanite 4.5 to 5 or 7
Limonite 1 to 5
Magnesite 3.5 to 5
Magnetite 5 to 6.5
Malachite 3.5 to 4
Marcasite 6 to 7.5
Molybdenite 1 to 2
Monazite 5 to 5.5
Muscovite 2 to 3
Nepheline 5.5 to 6
Nephrite 5 to 6
Olivine 6.5 to 7
Orthoclase 6 to 6.5
Plagioclase 6 to 6.5
Prehnite 6 to 6.5
Pyrite 6 to 6.5
Pyrophyllite 1 to 2
Pyrrhotite 3.5 to 4.5
Quartz 7
Rhodochrosite 3.5 to 4
Rhodonite 5.5 to 6.5
Rutile 6 to 6.5
Serpentine 3 to 5
Siderite 3.5 to 4.5
Sillimanite 6.5 to 7.5
Silver 2.5 to 3
Sodalite 5.5 to 6
Sphalerite 3.5 to 4
Spinel 7.5 to 8
Spodumene 6.5 to 7
Staurolite 7 to 7.5
Sulfur 1.5 to 2.5
Sylvite 2
Talc 1
Titanite 5 to 5.5
Topaz 8
Tourmaline 7 to 7.5
Turquoise 5 to 6
Uraninite 5 to 6
Witherite 3 to 3.5
Wollastonite 4.5 to 5.5
Zircon 7.5
Zoisite 6 to 7
Decreasing Hardness
Mineral
Mohs Hardness
Diamond 10
Corundum 9
Chrysoberyl 8.5
Topaz 8
Beryl 7.5 to 8
Spinel 7.5 to 8
Zircon 7.5
Cordierite 7 to 7.5
Staurolite 7 to 7.5
Tourmaline 7 to 7.5
Quartz 7
Garnet 6.5 to 7.5
Jadeite 6.5 to 7
Sillimanite 6.5 to 7.5
Olivine 6.5 to 7
Spodumene 6.5 to 7
Marcasite 6 to 7.5
Cassiterite 6 to 7
Epidote 6 to 7
Zoisite 6 to 7
Orthoclase 6 to 6.5
Plagioclase 6 to 6.5
Prehnite 6 to 6.5
Pyrite 6 to 6.5
Rutile 6 to 6.5
Diopside 5.5 to 6.5
Rhodonite 5.5 to 6.5
Arsenopyrite 5.5 to 6
Augite 5.5 to 6
Chromite 5.5 to 6
Hematite 5.5 to 6.5
Nepheline 5.5 to 6
Sodalite 5.5 to 6
Magnetite 5 to 6.5
Enstatite 5 to 6
Hornblende 5 to 6
Ilmenite 5 to 6
Nephrite 5 to 6
Turquoise 5 to 6
Uraninite 5 to 6
Monazite 5 to 5.5
Titanite 5 to 5.5
Apatite 5
Wollastonite 4.5 to 5.5
Kyanite 4.5 to 5 or 7
Fluorite 4
Magnesite 3.5 to 5
Pyrrhotite 3.5 to 4.5
Siderite 3.5 to 4.5
Azurite 3.5 to 4
Chalcopyrite 3.5 to 4
Cuprite 3.5 to 4
Dolomite 3.5 to 4
Malachite 3.5 to 4
Rhodochrosite 3.5 to 4
Sphalerite 3.5 to 4
Serpentine 3 to 5
Anhydrite 3 to 3.5
Witherite 3 to 3.5
Bornite 3 to 3.25
Calcite 3
Barite 2.5 to 3.5
Biotite 2.5 to 3
Chalcocite 2.5 to 3
Copper 2.5 to 3
Gold 2.5 to 3
Silver 2.5 to 3
Galena 2.5 to 2.75
Muscovite 2 to 3
Chlorite 2 to 2.5
Cinnabar 2 to 2.5
Halite 2 to 2.5
Glauconite 2
Sylvite 2
Sulfur 1.5 to 2.5
Gypsum 1.5 to 2
Limonite 1 to 5
Bauxite 1 to 3
Graphite 1 to 2
Molybdenite 1 to 2
Pyrophyllite 1 to 2
Talc 1

 

 

Mohs Hardness of Common Objects
Fingernail
2 to 2.5
Copper
3
Nail
4
Glass
5.5
Knife blade
5 to 6.5
Steel file
6.5
Streak plate
6.5 to 7
Quartz
7

 

Reference:
Wikipedia: Mohs scale of mineral hardness

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