The Scratch Test: Testing a Rock's Hardness

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Updated on May 21, 2013

Minerals have many different properties. These properties are used to classify minerals and to help in knowing how minerals can be used. Some of the properties of minerals include hardness, color, shine, and breaking. There are different tests that can be used to determine minerals’ properties. One of those tests is a scratch test. This test is used to determine the hardness of a mineral and can be performed by simply using a nail to scratch the surface of a mineral.


In this experiment, students will investigate the hardness property of minerals.


  • Rock salt
  • Quartz
  • Nail
  • Other easily accessible minerals


  1. Observe the two minerals closely. Write down your observations of how they feel and look. You may even want to draw an illustration of the two minerals.
  2. Using the pointed end of the nail, carefully try to scratch the surface of the quartz. Record what happened. Did the nail scratch the quartz?
  3. Now try to scratch the rock salt with the nail. Record what happened. Did the nail scratch the rock salt?
  4. If you have other minerals, repeat this test on each of the minerals. Record all of your observations in chart.
Angela Pike has been in the world of elementary education for almost a decade, working as a classroom teacher, school writing specialist, and later a school administrator. After a recent leave from the education realm to stay at home with her children, she channeled her passion for education, science, and writing into a composing articles and educational activities for various companies.

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