Fluorite: from your display shelf to your fridge
Fluorite's more than just a beautiful mineral - it's important!
And it's part of your every day life!
Check out this blog to learn more about fluorite, how it impacts your daily life and where it's found.
Like refrigerants (yes, we can thank the mineral fluorite for air conditioning and refrigeration!), aluminum, polymers, glass making, cement making, steel making (that's right, the frame of your car, can also be attributed to fluorite!) - and so many more things that impact our every day life!
Including cell phones, teflon on your non-stick pans, and the fluoride in your toothpaste (if you still use fluoridated toothpaste).
US fluorite mining history
The US used to mine a bunch of fluorite from Colorado. We've known about Colorado fluorite for a long time! But now-a-days nearly all of the fluorite used in the US is imported. In 2020, 70% of it came in from Mexico.
You can still get some throwback Colorado fluorite crystals (available now on the Truth Minerals website) - but let's keep these gorgeous specimens away from the HF (hydrofluoric acid) plants in Texas and Louisiana - and in our homes, where they belong.
(BTW, If you want to dig deeper into the history of Colorado fluorite mining and uses, this 2010 USGS report is a great read.)
Fluorite in human history
Fluorite's been historically used across the globe for jewelry, decoration and medicinal purposes.
In ancient Chinese medicine, fluorite was used to help with all kinds of things, including: insomnia, anxiety, coughs, wheezing and excessive menstrual bleeding.
Human fondness for fluorite is long-lived. Some of the oldest fluorite beads were found in pre-dynastic (6000-3150 BCE)Egypt. While on the other side of the globe and much younger, fluorite beads were found in the ancient ruins of Tiahuanaco, in present day Western Bolivia. (The latter area was occupied by early humans around 110 AD.)
There are also several Native American fluorite beads and artifacts found and documented in the US - quite popular from around 1050 to 1450 AD.
Colors of fluorite
Makes sense that fluorites were used as beads- they're pretty soft (4 on the Moh's scale) so they're easily shaped, and they occur in so many beautiful colors. In fact, natural fluorites occur in the widest variety of colors of any mineral. They're most common as purple, green and blue, but also come in red, yellow, orange, and even black. They're also commonly colorless and gray (though I'm guessing those weren't the most popular choice for ancient beads. They're certainly not today.)
Dozens of scientific studies investigated what controls fluorite's colors. It's not straightforward. But in general, different traces of rare earth elements, irradiation, and atomic arrangements within the crystalline structure all interplay to result in various color combinations.
One study found that naturally occurring samples of the darkest purple fluorites were in deposits with radioactive material, thus concluding that exposure to natural radiation colors fluorite purple. This was also replicated in labs - ionizing radiation does color natural fluorites. And heating can bleach the color out.
Traces of rare earth elements: Yttruim (Y), Europium (Eu) and Gadolinium (Gd) and Calcium (Ca) in various proportions are are also documented to give fluorites their unique colors.
Crystal Shape: Cubes!
These halides crystallize in the cubic system, and tend to form perfect cubes. They sometimes form octahedrons, which are also part of the cubic crystal system.
What's in a name?
There are many versions of the fluorite name story across the textbooks and the interwebs. 3 different explanations for how fluorite got its name are listed here:
Fluorite was initially described in the present day UK, and UK material does fluoresce. One account claims that fluorite was named (in England) for its fluorescing quality (that means they glow or change colors in a black light). BTW, most american fluorite doesn't fluoresce under a black light. (I've also read that the observation of fluorite glowing in a UV light was how the term fluorescence came about, so who knows!)
I've seen some accounts that fluorite was named because of its use in steel flux - describing its role in decreasing viscosity in steel making. (In case you forgot, viscosity is a fluid's tendency to flow. Think pouring honey and pouring water. Honey has higher viscosity than water, which pours easily and has lower viscosity.) Fluorite's latin root means "to flow".
And last but not least, I've seen that fluorite was given its name for its Fluorine component. (It's chemical formula is CaF2).
Solubility and the halide group
Fluorite's pretty insoluble. Some minerals dissolve rapidly in water. Not fluorite.
It's sister mineral halite (also crystallizes in cubes and they're both halide minerals) - is very soluble.
By the way, If you live in a super humid place like the gulf coast of Houston and you get one of those himalayan salt lamps be careful where you put it. I've tried to own them more than once. Each time, after a short time in this climate, a salty (sometimes even drippy) crust of salt crystals oozes out from the lamp and puddles and crusts all over the table it's standing on.
Salt creeps. But not fluorite. So if you live in a high humidity, tropical island paradise sort of setting, you can rest assured your fluorite crystals'll hold up. Just be careful not to scratch them.
Fluorite's hardness is a 4 on the Moh's scale. It's the defining mineral for hardness of 4. A little on the softer end, its easily scratched by quartz (7) and feldspar (6-6.5) but can scratch calcite (3).
Where's fluorite found?
The best American fluorites specimens are found in Illinois, Colorado and Tennessee.
Mexico's a well know fluorite specimen producer and a very important commercial fluorspar producer. Remember from above, the US imports the bulk of its industrial fluorspar from Mexico. There's also several Chinese fluorite specimens flooding the market these days.
How'd fluorite form?
It form in cracks in both igneous and sedimentary rocks. It's commonly found in large hydrothermal veins (mixed with angular chunks of the surrounding rock (called breccia) and is younger than the rocks that were cracked open.
Fluorite-bearing hydrothermal veins also commonly contain metallic ore minerals such as: silver, lead, zinc, copper and tin.
Fluorite's also found in vugs in limestones and dolostones.
Healing crystal symbolism
After combing through my two books about crystal energy and healing properties plus at least 10% of the world wide web, I've found that the healing properties accredited to fluorite depend on the color of fluorite and the author.
If you want to keep it simple, I invite you to use fluorite to remind you to stay in the flow. Stay in the flow of the universe. Let the river of divine healing flow through and to you. Healing is, after-all, your natural state of being.
Want your own fluorite specimens?
The Truth Minerals Colorado fluorite collection features several hand-held sized (and hand-collected) specimens of blues, purples, and greens. It's available on the website now, and you can check it out here.
If you're into BIG crystals, we also have a couple large (15 and 20 pound) spectacular architectural pieces available that bring glowing, subtle colors and peaceful vibes to any room in your house! They were also hand collected in Colorado.
See below for some preliminary pics and email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to claim one or both before they're listed on the website or show up in a store or at a show, please send us an email.
George Rapp, Archaeomineralogy, Second Edition, 2009; pub. Springer
William D. Nesse, Introduction to Mineralogy, Third Edition, 2017; pub. Oxford University Press
Mineral Commodities Summary 2021, United States Geological Survey, US Department of the Interior
Wallace, A.R., 2010, Fluorine, fluorite, and fluorspar in central Colorado: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5113, 61 p., available online at URL http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2010/5113 and CD–ROM.
Berman, Robert; Some Properties of Naturally Irradiated Fluorite in American Mineralogist (1957) 42 (3-4): 191–203.
Bill, H. and Calas, Color Centers, Associated Rare-Earth Ions and the Origin of Coloration in Natural Fluorites in Physics and Chemistry of Minerals (1978) 3: 117-131.