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.