What is the Difference Between Pyrite and Mica

The main difference between pyrite and mica is that pyrite is an iron sulfide mineral with a golden metallic appearance and cubic or pyritohedral crystal structure, while mica refers to a group of sheet silicate minerals with a layered structure and a flaky appearance.

Pyrite and mica are minerals commonly found in the Earth’s crust. But they have distinct characteristics and compositions.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Pyrite  
     – Definition, Composition, Properties 
2. What is Mica
     – Definition, Composition, Properties 
3. Similarities Between Pyrite and Mica
     – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Pyrite and Mica
    – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Pyrite, Mica

Difference Between Pyrite and Mica - Comparison Summary

What is Pyrite

Pyrite mineral is mainly composed of iron sulfide, with iron accounting for approximately 46.7% and sulfur making up the remaining 53.3% of its composition. The formation of pyrite occurs under a variety of geological conditions. It commonly forms in sedimentary rocks, as well as in hydrothermal veins associated with volcanic activity. Pyrite can be found in diverse environments, including coal beds, shale, limestone, and even in ancient fossils. Its presence in these formations can be attributed to the interaction of iron-rich fluids with sulfur compounds in the surrounding rock, which precipitates pyrite crystals.

One of the defining characteristics of pyrite is its distinctive appearance. The mineral exhibits a bright metallic luster, ranging from brassy yellow to golden hues. Its crystal structure typically takes the form of cubic or pyritohedral shapes, and individual crystals often display well-defined facets. In fact, this unique sheen of pyrite has led to its historical misidentification as gold.

Compare Pyrite vs Mica - What's the difference?

Pyrite possesses a moderate hardness, ranking around 6 to 6.5 on the Mohs scale. This makes it relatively resistant to scratching and explains why it can leave a mark on softer materials like glass. However, despite its durability, pyrite is prone to weathering and oxidation when exposed to air and moisture. Over time, its golden surface may tarnish, transforming into a dull, greenish-brown patina. This process is known as “pyrite disease.” This is a consequence of the iron sulfide reacting with oxygen and water. Pyrite specimens, when appropriately cut and polished, can exhibit breathtaking beauty with intricate patterns and textures that fascinate experts and enthusiasts alike. These specimens often find their way into mineral collections and museums, showcasing the wonders of nature’s artistry.

What is Mica

Mica, a group of sheet silicate minerals, possesses a unique shimmering quality. Mica belongs to a group of minerals known as phyllosilicates, characterized by their sheet-like structure. The most common type of mica is muscovite, which consists primarily of potassium, aluminum, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen. Moreover, other varieties include biotite, phlogopite, and lepidolite, each with unique composition and properties.

The formation of mica is closely tied to geological processes. It typically occurs in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. Mica minerals form due to the cooling and solidification of molten rock (magma) or by altering existing minerals under high temperature and pressure conditions. The presence of water during these processes is crucial for mica formation. One of the most remarkable characteristics of mica is its crystalline structure. This gives rise to its unique physical properties. Mica crystals form in thin, flexible sheets or flakes, often exhibiting excellent basal cleavage. This means that they can be easily split into thin, transparent layers. Muscovite mica, in particular, is known for its remarkable transparency, allowing light to pass through it and giving it a subtle, ethereal glow.

Pyrite vs Mica

Mica has a relatively low hardness of 2.5 to 4 on the Mohs scale, making it relatively soft and easily scratchable. Its specific gravity varies depending on the type of mica, ranging from 2.76 to 3.10. Mica is also highly heat resistant and can withstand high temperatures without melting or undergoing significant structural changes. 

 Similarities Between Pyrite and Mica

  • Pyrite and mica are naturally occurring minerals found in the Earth’s crust.
  • Both pyrite and mica minerals have a layered or sheet-like structure.
  • Pyrite and certain types of mica find applications in industrial processes.

Difference Between Pyrite and Mica


Pyrite is an iron sulfide mineral with the chemical formula FeS₂, consisting of iron (Fe) and sulfur (S) atoms. At the same time, mica refers to a group of sheet silicate minerals that are characterized by their distinct layered structure.


Pyrite typically appears as brassy yellow to golden-colored crystals or masses with a metallic luster. It often has a cubic or pyritohedral crystal structure. Mica minerals, on the other hand, have a layered structure and occur in thin, flexible flakes or sheets.

Physical Properties

Moreover, pyrite is relatively heavy and has a higher density than mica minerals. Mica minerals are generally softer, with a hardness ranging from 2.5 to 4, depending on the specific type.


The main difference between pyrite and mica is that pyrite is an iron sulfide mineral with a golden metallic appearance and cubic or pyritohedral crystal structure, while mica refers to a group of sheet silicate minerals with a layered structure and a flaky appearance.


1. “Pyrite | Properties & Facts.” Britannica Encyclopedia.
2. “Mica.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Pyrite elbe” By Didier Descouens – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Mica (6911818878)” By Pascal Terjan from London, United Kingdom – MicaUploaded by Magnus Manske(CC BY-SA 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasini A

Hasini is a graduate of Applied Science with a strong background in forestry, environmental science, chemistry, and management science. She is an amateur photographer with a keen interest in exploring the wonders of nature and science.

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