What is Fool's Gold?

Fool's Gold or Iron Pyrite

Fool's Gold often confused with real gold.

nps staff photo

Symbol: FeS2
Not an element or metal, but an ore
Reducting Point:
1017-1300 °F, 550 -700°C



Iron pyrite or Fool's Gold is a brassy yellow mineral that is often mistaken for gold, but there are many ways to tell the difference. Although pyrite is common and contains a high percentage of iron, it has never been used as a significant source of iron.

At one time, pyrite was commercially mined as a source for sulfur. Sulfur is used in the production of sulfuric acid, an important chemical used for various industrial processes. Today most sulfur production comes from helium sulfide gas recovered from natural gas wells. Some pyrite is used in jewelry under the trade name marcasite.



Pyrite was popular in Roman times as a source for sparks when struck with steel. Later in 1500 - 1600 AD this ability was used as a source for ignition in most firearms. It was also used as an early source for oil of vitriol (sulfuric acid).


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