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Calcite Properties, Meaning, Facts and Photos

colourless calcite mineral

What is Calcite?

Calcite is a common form of calcium carbonate.  Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound found in many minerals in nature.

The mineral aragonite is another crystalline form of calcium carbonate.

Calcite is well known for its spectacular and varied crystal formations of which there are more than 300 different types.

Calcite has more crystal structures than any other mineral.  It's often massive meaning its crystals are tightly intergrown and form one large mass.  Individual crystals are not visible and have no external shape or structure.  

Calcite crystals can vary dramatically in size and shape.  They can be found in almost any colour.

In its purest form calcite is either colourless, very pale or white.

Crystals can demonstrate double refraction of light correctly known as birefringence.  This means when light passes through, the crystal splits in two creating a double image.

Double refraction is widely used in optical applications.  The type of calcite that exhibits this property is known as optical calcite or Iceland Spar.

During the process of double refraction polarised light travels through the crystal at different speeds and in different directions.  As a result one of the rays is bent at an angle or 'refracted' whilst the other remains unchanged.

A good example of refraction is a pencil standing in a glass of water.  At the point where it enters the water it appears to be misaligned.  This optical illusion is caused by refraction of light.

Light bends at the point where the pencil meets the water but then continues in a straight line.

One of the most common minerals on Earth, calcite forms many rock types including limestone, marble and travertine.  It can also be found in caves as stalagmites and stalactites. 

Calcite is the main component in the shells of sea creatures.  As they die and fall to the seabed more rocks rich in calcium are created.  The process takes place over millions of years.

Calcite is so widespread it can be found in almost every country in the world.

dog tooth spar mineral

The properties of calcite makes it one of the most widely used of all minerals.  Large blocks of limestone and marble have been used in construction for thousands of years.

Although today these stones are seen as being more exclusive building materials, both are still widely used in the production of cement and concrete.     

Mined extensively in ancient Egypt, white and yellow calcite was used in everything from buildings to vases to the eyes in statues.

The Sphinx of Memphis which is believed to have been carved between 1700 and 1400 BC is the largest calcite statue to ever have been discovered.  The Great Pyramid of Egypt was once covered with a layer of limestone.  It's estimated 5.5 million tons would have been used to create it. 

Calcite grades 3 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness so scratches very easily.  Some metaphysical related articles particularly online have linked the hardness of a mineral to its suitability to be submerged in water.  There is no truth in this at all.

The articles claim minerals that grade less than 5 on Mohs scale should not be allowed to get wet.  The hardness of a mineral has nothing to do with how it reacts when submerged in water.

In most tap water that's suitable for drinking there's not enough acid present to cause any significant damage.  With that said, carbonate minerals such as calcite do not react well to acid so ideally should not be allowed to get wet.  

When exposed to the tiniest drop of acid calcite will effervesce.  Over extended periods of time it can begin to dissolve.

Water with high levels of iron can cause staining on a mineral but these levels are uncommon in drinking water. 

Pink, yellow, orange and blue calcite are widely used for decorative purposes.  When used as a gemstone calcite is usually shaped as a cabochon.

The Meaning of Calcite

The meaning of the world 'calcite' comes from the German 'calcit'.  That comes from the Latin 'calx' ('calcis' genitive form) meaning 'lime'.

In Old English the word 'cealc' referred to 'chalk' which is a soft, white limestone. It could also encompass the meanings of 'lime' and 'plaster.'

'Cealc' was sometimes used to describe a small stone or pebble.

The suffix 'ite' is widely used for minerals that have been named after people, places or other substances.  Examples include charoite, labradorite, sugilite and pietersite but there are many.

There's even an 'Englishite'.  This rare mineral was named after George Letchworth English.  This name would make many Northerners laugh.  'Northerners' is a term used to describe those who live 'up north' in the United Kingdom.

In this region the word 'shite' is often used instead of the more common 'swear' word.

Calcite Healing Properties

Calcite soothes and balances emotions, promotes emotional well-being and strengthens mental clarity.

It serves as a conduit for transforming negative feelings and emotions into positive ones. Its gentle energy can aid in releasing trauma, resentment and stagnant energy that may be obstructing personal growth.

Although calcite is not often thought of as one of the major healing crystals, its properties offer an invaluable contribution. When used with other stones it’s possible to unlock a world of healing and transformation, inviting balance, harmony and well-being into your life.

Calcite has a comforting energy that promotes self-acceptance, encourages forgiveness and assists in letting go of past grievances. It works gently and slowly to bring emotional healing and restore harmony and equilibrium.

It stimulates concentration and clears mental fog leading to a more rational and balanced way of thinking. It enables you to tap into your innate creativity and problem-solving abilities.

Calcite is said to be beneficial for those studying subjects relating to arts and science. It encourages motivation, revitalisation and can also be used to balance and cleanse all seven chakras.

Article Pictures

Both calcite photos are courtesy of Stan Celestian.  The twin crystal at the top is from Cumbria in the United Kingdom.

The dog-tooth spar is from Mexico.

Images are clickable and redirect to the original photo.

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