Graphite – Day 21 of the Mineral Advent Calendar

This holiday season, why not get a mineral every day instead of chocolate? Today’s mineral is Graphite find out more about it below..

The second of the UK snail-mail deadines fell today and sorry, if you missed the 1st class post today, then your only option you have to get deliveries done by the 25th is Special Delivery. But in relation to Saturday’s post, you need to get your scissors flying to make the mail!!

Sharp scissors are essential for nice wrapping!

Sharp scissors are essential for nice wrapping!

But apart from iron, you need carbon to make the best steel scissors! The easiest place to get carbon, although it is a common element (an ingedient in many minerals) is Graphite. So our second Mailing Mineral is Graphite! Graphite is also helpful if you want to make sure you have sent all the seasonal cards on your list by checking them off with your pencil!

Lovely graphite crystals taken by  John Jaszczak.

Lovely graphite crystals taken by John Jaszczak.

Graphite:
Chemical formula: C
Colour: Iron black to steel-grey
System: Hexagonal
Hardness (Mohs): 1 – 2
Can you find it in the UK? Yes

The only graphote location map I could get to work! From the MinDat website.

The only graphote location map I could get to work! From the MinDat website.

Unfortunately the map showing locations you can find Graphite in the UK isn’t really working, but you can find graphite in all the places where you can find metamorphosized rocks that are rich in carbon, so check all the usual mineral rich locations (Cumbria, North Wales, Cornwall, North West Highlands).

For more information about Graphite please visit the MinDat website.

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Kaolinite – Day 10 of the Mineral Advent Calendar

This holiday season, why not get a mineral every day instead of chocolate? Today’s mineral is Kaolinite find out more about it below..

So if you have friends who live overseas you will surely have today and the next few days marked on your calendar, as it’s the LAST POSTAGE DAY FOR AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND  today. Unfortunately you have already missed Africa; the Middle East; Asia Central and South America; and the Caribbean (among a few others), but for most other locations you still have a few days left to get your mail delivered before the 24th December.

Is your overseas post ready to go - or have you already sent it?!

Is your overseas post ready to go – or have you already sent it?!

If you are posting a letter to a loved one or friend, did you think about the fact that your festive envelope couldn’t exist without the mineral Kaolinite? A clay mineral, Kaolinite is added to paper to improve the texture and as a filler, a practice which has been done for years!

A gorgeous Kaolinite crystal (image from Wikipedia)

A gorgeous Kaolinite crystal (image from Wikipedia) – EDIT: As DB correctly noted this isn’t just Kaolinite, but Kaolinite that has replaced a lovely feldspar crystal, but kept the shape (known as a psuedomorph). For an image of just Kaolinite crystals, see the MinDat page here.

 

 Kaolinite:

Chemical formula: Al2(Si2O5)(OH)4
Colour: White to cream and pale-yellow, also often stained various shades of brown
System: Triclinic
Hardness (Mohs): 2 – 2½
Can you find it in the UK? Yes

Kaolinite is found in many locations in the UK, in fact if you zoom in on this map from the MinDat Website you can see more and more little crystals pop up!

Kaolinite is found in many locations in the UK, in fact if you zoom in on this map from the MinDat Website you can see more and more little crystals pop up!

Kaolinite is often known by another common name of China Clay. If you think where in the UK you can find China Clay Quarries – that is undoubtedly where you can find Kaolinite. Finding a lovely crystal like the one in the images is much harder, but if you do you should treasure it!

For more information about Kaolinite please visit the MinDat website.