Iron disulfide

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Iron pyrite inlays
MFA# 26.20
Iron pyrite

Primarily occurs as a yellowish mineral with a metallic luster called Pyrite. Iron disulfide also occurs as that mineral Marcasite. Major sources for iron pyrite include sites in India, Turkey, and Russia. It was called fool's gold because its color and metallic sheen often is mistake for gold. Polished pieces of iron pyrite have been used for necklaces and bracelets. Ethanolamine thioglycollate treatments have been used to minimize the decomposition of pyritic specimens (Cornish 1984).

See also Pyrrhotite.

Synonyms and Related Terms

iron (II) disulfide; iron pyrite; pyrite; fool's gold; martial pyrite; mundic; factitous pyrite; Pyrit (Deut.); pyrite (Fr.); pyriet (Ned.); piryt (Pol.); pirita (Port.);






  • Can evolve low levels of sulfur dioxide.
  • Degrades in high humidity environments.

ThermoFisher: SDS]

Physical and Chemical Properties

Insoluble in water. Magnetic after heating. Crystal system = isometric Cleavage = poor Fracture = uneven Luster = metallic Streak = greenish black to brown

Composition FeS2
CAS 1309-36-0
Mohs Hardness 6.0 - 6.5
Melting Point 1171-1188
Density 4.9-5.1
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 119.967

Resources and Citations=

  • L. Cornish, A.M. Doyle. "Use of Ethanolamine Thioglycollate in the Conservation of Pyritised Fossils" Palaeontology 27(2), 1984, 421-424.
  • C.W.Chesterman, K.E.Lowe, Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and Minerals, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: density=4.95-5.1
  • Jack Odgen, Jewellery of the Ancient World, Rizzoli International Publications Inc., New York City, 1982
  • Submitted information: Jon Byler, Jan. 23, 2006. melting point = 1171 C (Lange's Handbook 1985), melting point=1188C (CRC 78th ed.)
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 422
  • Susan E. Schur, Conservation Terminology: A review of Past & Current Nomenclature of Materials, Technology and Conservation, Spring (p.34-39); Summer (p.35-38); Fall (p.25-36), 1985

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