View your list of saved words. (You can log in using Facebook.)
Resistance of a mineral to scratching, described relative to a standard scale of 10 minerals known as the Mohs hardness scale. Hardness is an important diagnostic property in mineral identification. There is a general link between hardness and chemical composition (via crystal structure); thus, most hydrous minerals, halides, carbonates, sulfates, and phosphates are relatively soft; most sulfides are relatively soft (two exceptions being marcasite and pyrite); and most anhydrous oxides and silicates are hard. See alsohardening.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on hardness, visit Britannica.com.