Is this Iron or Magnetite?
Today I wanted to identify this brown dust. I found the dust by me. I accidentally dropped a magnet on the ground and the dust sticks to the magnet. So I collected it to perform some experiments with it. So in this post, I’m going to identify this dust. Let’s perform some tests.
This dust could be two things:
Magnetite: Magnetite is a mineral and one of the main iron ores. It is one of the oxides of iron. Magnetite is ferrimagnetic; it is attracted to a magnet and can be magnetized to become a permanent magnet itself. It is the most magnetic of all the naturally-occurring minerals on Earth. Naturally-magnetized pieces of magnetite, called lodestone, will attract small pieces of iron, which is how ancient peoples first discovered the property of magnetism.
Magnetite is very easy to identify. It is one of just a few minerals that are attracted to a common magnet. It is a black, opaque, sub metallic to a metallic mineral with a Mohs hardness between 5 and 6.5. It is often found in the form of isometric crystals.
But magnetite is brown and my dust is brown…
Iron: Elemental iron occurs in meteoroids and other low oxygen environments, but is reactive to oxygen and water. Fresh iron surfaces appear lustrous silvery-gray but oxidize in normal air to give hydrated iron oxides, commonly known as rust.
My dust is brown, so it be iron.
The dust has tiny chunks of stone in there too.
1. Magnet Test:
I used a rare earth magnet to see if it attracts. Of course, that’s how I found it. This could mean that it’s iron or magnetite.
2. Iron Test:
I poured the Dust onto a Petri dish. And I mixed a chain of paper clips in there. And it turns out that tiny pieces of the dust are on the paper clips. This probably means that the dust is magnetite.
I tried to make the tiny stones stick onto the paper clips but didn’t work.
3. Reacting to Magnet Test:
When I used the forceps to carry a piece of tiny stone onto a piece of paper, some of the dust is sticking onto the stone!
Let’s ignore that for now.
I wrapped a magnet in a plastic bag, in case the dust sticks on it (you wouldn’t be able to take the dust of the magnet. If you take off the plastic bag, the dust will come off).
I took the north pole of the magnet and hover it over the small stone. The dust on the stone is attracting to the magnet, but some of them don’t. When I used the south pole of the magnet, the dust that isn’t attracting to the north pole is attracting to the south pole.
After all of these tests, I think the dust is tiny pieces of magnetite. But I’m not sure, because magnetite is black. My final answer is: I don’t know… Scientists shouldn’t publish the results when they’re not sure. And that’s why my answer is I don’t know.
I’ll need to do some more tests with it to make sure…
What do you think it is? Let me know in the comment section↓