Hematite

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Hematite is a very useful mineral because it is the most important ore for iron. We get iron from hematite, and we get steel from iron. Can you imagine what the world would be like without steel?! Hematite is commonly found in several colors, such as red, brown, orange, gray or black. The red, orange and brown colors occur when the iron in the hematite begins to rust. Hematite is quite hard, between 5-6 on the hardness scale and has a red or brown streak. You can often find polished hematite in rock stores. Once it is polished, it is a metallic gray and is usually smooth and rounded. Hematite is attracted by a magnet because of the iron in it. American Indians used to crush hematite and mix it with animal fat to produce red and brown paint for their artwork and their bodies.