Endless entertainment… These magnetic “sticky stones” were a gift from Captain’s grandparents after they traveled across the United States
These magnetic pieces are lots of fun, and can be found in many gift shops in touristy places around the world. Captain and her dad had gotten a few in Sequoia National Park, and then her grandparents added to her collection. We keep the pouch on our counter, where we hang out and eat, talk and play, and they seem to get handled, stacked and just generally played with a lot. We decided to learn about hematite because we are a family quite interested in all things magnetic. Although the “hematite” sold as sticky rocks, like the ones shown above, are, in fact, usually a synthetic form of magnetic hematite, sometimes called “hematine”, they are still the perfect introduction to talking about minerals.
Here are 10 fun facts about hematite that are fun to talk about while playing with these sticky stones. As always, memorizing the facts isn’t necessary! Just using the language and talking about things in a fun and interesting way stimulates our thirst for knowledge and gives us all some of the language of natural minerals, and isn’t that alone enough to build up the fundamentals of the burgeoning scientist? So here we go to some hematite facts that we chatted about with Captain, letting whatever parts interest her jump into her brain and, excuse the pun!, stick where they may and get her thinking…
1. The name “hematite” comes from the Greek work for blood, haima (or the root “hema”), because hematite can be red.
2. Hematite is the mineral form of iron oxide and is harder than pure iron, but much more brittle.
3. Hematite is usually found in places where there is water and in areas where hot springs are found, like England, Switzerland, Italy, Australia, Brazil and in the Lake Superior region in Michigan. However, there are forms of hematite that result from volcanic activity without water.
4. Hematite has been discovered on Mars!
5. Hematite is weakly magnetic (although it does display magnetic capabilities at high temperatures) and that is why other minerals are used to create synthetic hematite for sticky stones.
6. Hematite can be used as a pigment in paints, and the colors range from almost black to silvery gray to blood red. One of the most famous forms is the lusterous silver gray used for jewelry and other ornamental things. (We want to get some hematite beads and make bracelets!) No matter the color, there is a rust-colored streak in every hematite stone.
7. Hematite forms in a series of crystalline plates, which build on each other.
8. Hematite is believed to be a healing and grounding mineral that can strengthen the body and lessen life’s stresses. It is also considered by some to be helpful for some conditions, like seasickness.
9. Hematite powder was used in Egyptian tombs to stop intruders from entering. Hematite powder can be irritating to eyes and skin and can be lethal if inhaled. If tomb robbers disturbed the sarcophagus, the hematite would fly up into the air and get in the robbers’ eyes and lungs.
10. Hematite in powdered form has been used as a red chalk for thousands of years.
I am unable to quote all of my sources exactly because I have gathered facts along the way. Everything here is completely accurate to my knowledge.
Minerals Rock! Thanks for reading.