Learn more about minerals

How much do you know about minerals? Come learn more! #stemvee

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Greeting! You may hear the most common word of choice through literature under food science, they are dietary elements and minerals. Are they interchangeable and have the same definition? Can they be used in whatever it seems fit? Both of them have different definitions. Let’s immersive the mineral world. Mineral fundamentally means the common characterization of chemical composition. It tends to relate to the chemical formula. The periodic table has different elements, but minerals mostly focus on inorganic elements which excludes carbon. It naturally is made by the Earth in the process. Lab-made synthesis by people cannot be involved. Physical properties typically have excessive pressure in kilopascal (kPa) and extremely high temperature in Celsius (oC). With these excessive measurements, minerals produced a crystal. Does that apply to a rock? Yes, rocks have different physical properties. The core of the earth runs on heat along with the different elements. The elements are mixing together in the core of the earth. Some of the elements are staying while others are traveling out of the earth’s crust (thin layer). Once the molten elements are out of the crust, they reacted with external environments like air and water (i.e. rivers and oceans). Rivers, oceans, and air have different elements. The elements repeatedly react with the external environment through continuous cycles enough to produce either a crystal or rock. An inner structure of chemical composition in strict order (crystalline shape) builds up to generate a crystal lattice. That’s called a crystal while rock does not have a crystal lattice. Fundamentally, the mineral has a common characterization of chemical composition. A particular chemical composition has a similar pattern producing a unit and should be identified. For instance, quartz is the most popular in the store. The chemical composition of the quartz is SiO2 (silicon dioxide). You may see different color influences in the quartz. Does quartz no longer have a SiO2 or randomly have additional elements? The chemical composition of quartz fundamentally remains the same. SiO2 remains labeled mineral. The color difference in quartz is caused by trace elements. Although the crystal lattice has the same chemical composition, the trace elements disrupt the crystalline lattice through defects that cause colors. Pink quartz has P, Fe, Mg, etc as trace elements. They generate a pink color, not bond with SiO2. All minerals are crystals; however, not all crystals are minerals. Crystal sugar claims a “crystal” on the package.  Does it mean the crystal sugar has minerals? The crystal sugar is synthesized by dextrose deprived of carbon-based sources. Salts packages don’t have a crystal label. Scientists investigated and labeled salts for the crystal category. The salt is halite (NaCl). The crystal lattice resembles a cubic in 3-D shape. Trace elements make different colors in the salt. Salts have either pink or light grey. You notice salt is white because it is highly manufactured by removing all trace elements. As a result, the salt becomes so white. White salt displays pure NaCl. Light grey salts are produced naturally through evaporation. The salt size can be adjustable to bite-size for selling food products. Geologists and scientists encourage people to use dietary element term in the immense discussion for clear communication. The mineral word is sufficient that refers to salt only by assumption. Again, mineral refers to a chemical formula and what elements our body needs. That’s the minimum content. In the food science content, the mineral has completely different meanings.  



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