Calcite Mineral | Properties
About the Mineral Calcite
The mineral calcite is a common form of calcium carbonate (aragonite is the crystal form of calcium carbonate) that's well known for its spectacular and varied crystal formations of which there are more than three hundred different types. It has more crystal structures than any other mineral but its crystal habit is often massive which means it exhibits a mass of tiny crystals which cannot be seen individually.
Calcite crystal formations vary dramatically in size and shape and can occur in almost any colour although in its purest form the mineral is either colourless, very pale or white. Some crystals demonstrate double refraction of light meaning that when light passes through them it's split in two giving a double image of any object that's being viewed. Double refraction is widely used in optical applications. The type of calcite that exhibits this unique property is known as optical calcite or Iceland Spar.
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 and 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 but this process takes place over millions of years. Calcite is so widespread that it can be found in almost every country in the world.
Dog-Tooth Spar, Variety of Calcite. Photo Courtesy of Stan Celestian - Flickr
The properties of calcite make it one of the most widely used of all minerals and large blocks of limestone and marble have been used in construction for thousands. Although today they're seen as a more exclusive material, 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. Although at that time it was referred to as alabaster, almost all Egyptian alabaster was in fact calcite. The Sphinx of Memphis which is believed to have been carved at some time 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 casing of limestone and it's estimated that 5.5 million tons would have been used.
In crystal healing it's written that calcite is beneficial for studying with a particular emphasise on the arts and sciences. It's also said to be beneficial for motivation, laziness, revitalisation, emotional stress, tissue healing and the immune system. It's an amplifier of energy which is useful for cleansing the chakras.
Calcite is a soft mineral which grades just 3 on Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Pink, yellow and orange calcite are widely used for lapidary purposes and in particular for gemstones.
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