MacRoscopic Properties: The World We See

Food and Senses

What is the Mohs scale of hardness?

Substances, mostly minerals, are ranked by their ability to scratch one another. If one mineral can scratch another mineral it gets a higher ranking on the Mohs hardness scale. When Friedrich Mohs devised the scale, diamond was the hardness substance known, so it was given a value of 10. Talc (also known as talcum powder), being very soft, has a hardest rating of only 1. Mohs devised this scale to help sort out the private rock collection of an Austrian banker, and later the Archduke’s museum collection. There are more quantitatively accurate measurements of hardness available today, but the simplicity of the Mohs scale keeps it relevant and practical.


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