Hematite Stone | Ore of Iron

 

 

hematite mineral on display in a museum cabinet

 

 

About the Mineral Hematite


Hematite also spelt haematite is a major source of metallic iron and some ores can contain as much as 70%.  Available in abundance around the world it's widely used in the steel industry and ores containing a high percentage of iron can be fed straight into blast furnaces which convert iron oxides into liquid iron.  Although a dense mineral which makes it heavy, hematite is much harder than pure iron but is brittle so will chip or shatter easily.  Its colour ranges from black to silver grey, brown to reddish brown and even red and although it occurs in many different forms, it has the same crystal structure as corundum.  Sapphire and ruby are both gemstone varieties of the mineral corundum.

Streak is a term used in mineralogy to describe the colour of a mineral in fine powdered form and can often be a different colour to the the stone itself.  Hematite has a blood red to reddish brown streak but it's only after being broken and exposed to air that its edges turn red and powdery

 

 

Hematite on Mars


Both fine and coarse grains of hematite can be found on Mars and during dust storms it's the fine grains which blow around and give the planet its red appearance.  It's for this reason that Mars is also known as the Red Planet.  The coarse grains which are grey hematite indicate water is likely to have once been present but having said that, their formation may also be because of volcanic activity.  





 

 

reflective oval shaped hematite stone sitting on a reflective flat piece of hematite

 


Photo by Arturo R Montesinos - Flickr

 

 

An Association with Blood


The name haematite originates from the Greek word haema meaning blood because of the deep red colour of its streak.  For this reason throughout history the stone has been widely used for healing disorders of the blood and to protect the wearer from bleeding.  The prefix haema is also present in the words haemaglobin (protein which carries oxygen around the blood), haematoma (solid swelling of clotted blood) and haematology (the study and treatment of the blood).

Red ochre is one of the oldest pigments known to man and is made up primarily of haematite which is a reddish brown coloured iron oxide, the main component of rust.  It has for thousands of years been used by people around the world and has been found in cave paintings known to be 40,000 years old.  A powder that's believed to be one of the earliest in the history of mankind that originates from a natural mineral was found to be approximately 164,000 years old and traces of hematite have also been found on skeletal remains which date back 12,000 years to the Neolithic Age.

More recently hematite has been used by Native American Indians and also played an important part during the New Age movement of the 1960's.

 

 

hematite mineral in a museum display cabinet

 

 

Haematite in Crystal Healing and Jewellery


In crystal healing haematite is considered to be effective for grounding and protecting, it boosts self esteem and willpower and is beneficial for those studying mathematics and other subjects of a technical nature.  It can help with compulsions, addictions, overeating, stress, circulatory problems and all disorders of the blood.  It's believed to dissolve negativity and protect the aura and is an excellent stone for accessing the subconscious mind and for boosting memory.

Although graded 5½ to 6½ on Mohs scale of mineral hardness haematite is brittle so is likely to shatter quite easily.  When used as a gemstone although it may be faceted it's most commonly found as a cabochon.  Beads that are faceted can sometimes be confused for black diamond.

The photographs at the top and bottom of this page were taken in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C. and the Harvard Museum of Natural History, Massachusetts, USA.  Photos by Stone Mania ©

 

 

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Further Reading

Information from Geology.com
Crystal Structure Hematite versus Corundum - An In Depth Article