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Monday, April 9, 2018

H is for Hematite

Hematite is the mineral form of iron oxide.  Hematite is harder than iron, but also more brittle.  It ranges in color from black to silver-gray and brown to reddish-brown and red.  Gray hematite is found in places with standing water such as mineral hot springs, or a lake or stream.  In places without water, it usually occurs as a product of volcanic activity.

Raw hematite courtesy of Wikipedia

Hematite’s most popular time in jewelry was during the Victorian era in Europe.

Carved bear courtesy of Wikipedia

Huge deposits of hematite are found in banded iron formations.  There’s a type of red hematite that’s used in traditional Swedish house paint.


  1. Cool! What makes it "traditional Swedish house paint," the color? Just curious.

    1. John,

      Here's the answer to your question. Maybe it's more than you wanted to know.

      The high iron content of iron oxide makes hematite a strong tinting pigment. The majority of homes, barns and sheds etc. are red in Sweden because in about 850 AD they started mining in the town of Falun. The mine there, known as the great copper mountain, contained copper, Sulphur, iron and other minerals. The Falun mine sent copper all over Europe accounting for about 80% of the copper supply. But before they could do that, they burned the ore to oxidize it and get rid of the iron considered to be waste.

      Once this roasting process was done on the copper, a cinder of red iron ocher or hematite remained. This was piled next to the mine for years because it was considered waste from the copper mining.

      Centuries later someone noticed there was a post sitting in this waste and it wasn’t weathered or decayed, so that’s when it became the idea for paint on buildings in order to preserve them. At the time it was cheap paint that you mixed on site by boiling this hematite with linseed oil and mixing with rye flour and water. Most people were poor at the time and used this color on the wooden buildings. The rich people used white or yellow paint, which was more expensive. Today you can get this paint known as Falun red, but it’s already mixed and is as expensive as other paint.

      Thanks for reading. I'll be visiting you soon.



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