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elements, minerals, and rocks, oh my!

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Elements are consisting of atoms that contain a specific number of protons. The number of protons determines which element is its. The periodic table lists all elements sorted by number of protons in the nucleus. All chemical compounds are made from elements.

(In your example: Iron is an element, because every iron atom has exactly 26 protons. The property "having 26 protons" defines the element "iron".)


Minerals are naturally occurring solid inorganic chemicals of a specific chemical composition that possess a crystalline structure. Some minerals can be composed of single elements (native metals), but most minerals are not a single element, but a chemical compound.


Rocks are aggregates of various substances, can contain several different minerals, or no minerals at all. They are not elements.


ETA: Since you mentioned rocks, I assume you are talking in geological terms? Because what is called "mineral" in a dietary sense is not a mineral in a geological sense. In a nutritional context, "mineral" is used to refer to all kinds of inorganic ions.

Edited by regentrude
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