Fools Gold, The illusion of Pyrite

There you are, a happy prospector panning away for gold in the Klondike or Wales or whatever merrily sticking your pan in the water sifting through the silt. Then success! a sudden glint in the sand and it looks like you’ve stuck the big time. Then you call over to Zeke or Gareth, again depending on where you are, to take a look. It’s at that point they deliver the cherishing news. “It’s fool’s gold mate/pard’ner. Sorry”. Yes, all you’ve found is iron Pyrite. It might be as shiny as the luxury chandeliers you’ll find at

It’s an easy mistake to make. Pyrite is a yellow and brassy color which is bright and looks like, well, golden. It’s actually a fusion of Iron deposits with other minerals. It can be formed at very high temperatures and it can format at very low temperatures. There are quite small amounts of it that do form, so, in a way, it is a bit rare. Also, Pyrite can form and bond with gold itself so, even if-if you’ve got some this time it might be worth mining out the Pyrite as there may be a significant amount of gold in it. This has to be in very large quantities of mind. Think at least a ton of pyrite and your starting to get there.

So, is Pyrite actually useful for anything then, other than annoying poor panning miners? As it’s a sulfide mineral it can also be used to make sulfuric acid. Pyrite also replaces living organic matter in fossils. As the organic material rots away the Pyrite forms around the shell and encases it. The Pyrite goes on to create a beautiful golden fossil that really helps out paleontologists as the fossil is perfectly preserved.

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There are other uses. It’s not used for this anymore but once upon a time, or the Sixteenth century to be precise Pyrite was the perfect part of the firing mechanism for the wheel lock pistol and musket. The Pyrite made the sparks to ignite the gunpowder. Once that went bang it pushed the musket ball out towards the target. Away form violent aspects Pyrite is also sued in Energizer lithium batteries. So, you can thank fool’s gold for that TV remote not packing in after three weeks use. Back in the past, the metal element in Pyrite was great at detecting radio waves and it was very common to find some in early crystal sets.

Pyrite may have all our futures in its hands! Because it is so easy to find and source it is one of the cheapest materials used to create photovoltaic cells for solar panels. If that doesn’t impress you then maybe you can wear it. It may not glitter like true gold but as the basis for marcasite crystal, it makes beautiful jewelry when sunk into sliver for a necklace or pendant.