MINERAL PROPERTIES: ODOR
Several minerals give off a distinctive odor in certain conditions. Sulfur specimens, in normal room
conditions, give off a mild odor resembling the smell of a lighting match. However if
heated or struck, they will give off a powerful odor like rotten eggs. Many sulfides, such as
Pyrite, also give off a rotten-egg
odor if heated or struck.
Native Arsenic specimens give off a
very mild garlic smell in normal room conditions. However, if heated or struck, they give
off a powerful garlic odor. Some minerals containing arsenic in their chemical formula,
such as Arsenopyrite, also give off a
garlic odor if struck or heated. (One should never heat a mineral that possibly
contains arsenic since its fumes are toxic.)
If wet or in moist conditions, minerals of the clay
group, such as Kaolinite, give off an odor resembling fresh clay.
Although only few minerals have a characteristic odor, odor
can be a useful identification key where it is applicable.