What is the Difference Between Crystals and Minerals?
INSIDE: Crystals and minerals are often mistakenly used as synonyms. However, although they are closely related and both can be incredibly beneficial, the two are not the same. Here's why….
Minerals offer numerous benefits both for living things and the planet we live on. Research published by PubMed highlights the importance of a mineral-enriched diet for maintaining good health and vitality. They are essential for keeping the biome in balance and play a crucial role in maintaining the quality of the soil.
Just as the minerals we consume are essential for our wellbeing, crystals, which are closely related to minerals, can be extremely beneficial as well.
People often interchange minerals and crystals when talking about their healing properties, but there are some differences. Let's learn about the link between them and the differences...
What is the Difference Between Crystals and Minerals?
Both minerals and crystals are natural formations, and while they are not completely the same, they are closely linked.
Minerals are found in the earth’s crust and there are 4,000 of them that are naturally forming across the globe. They can be found in various forms and in different percentages in soil, rocks, and sediments.
Some of them are closer to the surface, while others are deeper in the lithosphere. They can be found dissolved in water or as firm, crystalline structures of various sizes, depending on the surroundings they are found in.
Crystals, just like minerals, are also found in the lithosphere, mainly in underground cavities and geodes. But because of their structure, chemical disposition, and long formation process, they are more complex than minerals.
The main link between crystals and minerals is that minerals are essential for crystal formation.
Crystals are solid formations and are the result of geological and chemical processes that include minerals. In other words, there is a presence of minerals in many crystals.
To fully understand the difference, let’s dive deeper into what distinguishes minerals from crystals…
What Is a Mineral?
Minerals are homogeneous solid substances or chemical compounds with a definite chemical composition and a crystalline structure.
Because they are active compounds of crystal formation, minerals are more commonly found than crystals, but they are still relatively rare. In larger quantities, they are found only in specific geological locations.
While crystals can be made of one or a few organic elements, minerals are exclusively inorganic.
Minerals Can Form Crystals
Crystals and minerals are closely linked since minerals play a significant role in crystal formation. However, while they can crystalize, minerals don’t form one specific type of crystal.
Instead, because they are a type of natural inorganic material, they play a role in forming various types of crystals. In other words, minerals are like ingredients necessary for crystal formation, but just like a spice, they can be added to different crystal mixtures. One mineral can be found in the chemical structure of multiple types of crystals.
All minerals found in nature can form crystals and can crystalize, and all can play a part in the crystal formation process. Not all minerals form healing crystals inside of a geode. For instance, salts and diamonds, which are minerals, can be found crystallized in pure form.
Minerals Are Found in Various Forms
Minerals can form crystal formations that vary in size and weight. From salt-like crystals, big crystals are found inside geodes.
There are four main types of atomic bonds or arrangements of bonds that minerals can make:
These types of atomic bonds determine the whole crystallization process. They also dictate the properties of crystals that are formed from minerals.
Properties of minerals are crucial for understanding the relationship between crystals and minerals. Minerals impact how the surface of the crystal will look and how shiny it will be.
As an example, Pyrite, which is formed from sulfide minerals, is a metallic crystal.
The type of mineral a crystal is made of determines the physical properties of crystals. For instance, apart from trace elements and other geological and chemical factors, the type of mineral and its atomic bonds play a role in determining the main color of the crystal.
The strength of the atomic bond is associated with the hardness of crystals. This is why every mineral, and crystal it forms, has a different hardness rate on the Moh’s Hardness Scale.
Minerals Are Chemical Compounds
Minerals play an important role in crystal formation but are not the only "ingredient" found in crystals. They are building blocks for crystals and they form crystals under specific conditions.
For instance, the chemical structure of pure Clear Quartz is silicon dioxide, and as such, it is a type or a species of silicate minerals.
However, to get a healing crystal with a complex crystalline lattice and characteristic crystal points, there has to be a slow cooling process of silicone dioxide inside a hollow rock.
Chemically, a few minerals can be the same but form different crystals.
There are different types of minerals found in nature, and the seven most common ones are:
- Silicates, such as Quartz and Feldspar
- Oxides, such as Hematite
- Sulfates, such as Apatite
- Sulfides, such as Pyrite
- Carbonates, such as Calcite and Malachite
- Native elements
These seven types are the key to understanding crystals and minerals. When time and chemical processes do their magic and silica inside a geode starts growing, the result we get can be different varieties of Quartz, such as Clear Quartz, Amethyst, Citrine, or Rose Quartz.
Similarly, pure ferric oxide, under specific conditions can form Hematite.
Native elements, such as Diamonds, and Halides, such as salt, also form crystals, but unlike the other five from the group, their crystals don’t belong to the group of healing crystals.
What Is a Crystal?
Crystals and minerals can both be found in solid form. And while minerals can be found present in liquids, crystals are always crystalline solids.
They have a different level of translucency, luminosity, they vary in color and size, and they have a complex crystal lattice.
The crystal lattice found in geodes is such that it forms numerous crystal points that go in different directions and they all have a highly ordered microscopic structure.
Ions in a crystal are arranged to form a regular pattern that is specific to a certain type of crystal. The result is a specific geometric, crystalized form.
Crystals Are Complex Formations
Crystals and minerals are both found in the lithosphere, but crystals are more complex. The chemical makeup of a crystal is made of one, or more minerals, rocks, and trace elements. They are products of chemical reactions, melting, cooling, and time.
A geode is like a cocoon where chemical processes take place, supported by geological conditions that instigate the growth of crystal forms.
The chemical mixture is always different to a degree, and so are the conditions and the materials included in the process of crystal formation.
Usually, the formation requires a hollow rock geode that comes in contact with mineral-enriched water and trace materials, which then, in time, start to sediment inside the geode over time. To learn more about how geodes are formed, click here.
Crystals Are Solid & Geometrically Defined
The structure of a crystal is geometrically defined. The crystalline structure involves geometric formations made of minerals. As minerals and other compounds melt or move through hollow rock, they slowly accumulate, crystallize, and grow.
The geometric structure of crystals can take various shapes, depending on the lattice system. All geometric patterns found in crystals are three-dimensional and they have a precisely ordered structure.
Unlike minerals, which are strictly made of inorganic materials, the formation of crystals can, in some cases, include organic elements.
While minerals can be found in liquids like water, crystals can’t be dissolved, as they are solids.
Crystals Are Rare & Unique
Crystals and minerals are both rare. However, natural, authentic crystals that are found in the Earth’s crust are a special rarity and take hundreds of years to form.
Due to time and special conditions required for crystal growth, natural crystals are not easy to come by. As a matter of fact, they can be found only in specific locations across the globe that are rich with minerals necessary for formation.
Not only are they hard to come by, but each individual crystal always differs from others of its type. For instance, no Amethyst is always the same color or size, and not all crystal pieces of the same name have the same inclusions, even when they come from the same geode. This makes them especially unique.
So, if you have a piece of an authentic crystal, rest assured that no one else in the world has an identical piece!
What also varies is the percentage of the presence of minerals and other compounds found in the crystal structure. This is the reason why no crystal is the same, and even those that belong to the same family or are of the exact same type will always have a different look, size, and shape.
Minerals and crystals are incredible formations that are essential for keeping nature balanced. They are closely entwined, and both play important roles in maintaining equilibrium in the world, chemically and energetically.