The Beauty of Compounds & Mixtures

The beauty of compounds increases with purity, but ironically the greatest beauty occurs when the right impurities and conditions come along. Many pure substances in the laboratory are either dull, white powders or coloured and dull. If they are dissolved and allowed to crystallize slowly, their geometry becomes apparent to the naked eye, and light interacts with crystals far more elaborately. In nature’s laboratory, impurities, heat, and pressure help convert compounds and elements into minerals. These new forms retain their basic ratios of bonded atoms, but now minerals, as the philosopher Santayana would say, objectify pleasure—in other words, they become beautiful. Scroll down to see a few examples:


Marcasite. Its main compound is FeS2


Bornite Cu5FeS4


Calcite CaCO3


Realgar AsS


Amethyst SiO2



Sulfur S

Sucrose C12H22O11 (not really a mineral but I formed this crystal of a common organic compound by forgetting about a saturated solution in the fridge.)