What is Fool's Gold?

Hunk of gold colored metal with lots of angular faces.
Fool's Gold is often confused with real gold.

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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Mailing Address:

319 Second Ave S.
Seattle, WA 98104


(206) 220-4240
Between hours of 10:00 am and 4:45 pm PST the phone is answered by the Visitor Center front desk staff. All other times a message can be left for a call back.

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