Ironstone is a fine-grained, heavy and compact sedimentary rock. Its main components are the carbonate or oxide of iron, clay and/or sand. It can be thought as a concretionary form of siderite. Ironstone also contains clay, and sometimes calcite and quartz.


Freshly cleaved ironstone is usually grey. The brown external appearance is due to oxidation of its surface. Ironstone, being a sedimentary rock is not always homogeneous, and can be found in a red and black banded form called tiger iron, sometimes used for jewelry purposes.

Sometimes ironstone hosts concretions or opal gems.


Ironstone mostly occurs in the form of nodules, for example in seams in the coal measures.


Due to its unique properties, ironstone was once popular for use in English tea sets

Ironstone as a source of iron

Ironstone is a bountiful and widespread source of iron (Fe), although it only contains less than 50 percent iron, far less than the other main source of iron, hematite. Historically, most of British iron originated from ironstone, but it is now rarely used for this purpose.

ee also

* Iron ore
* Banded iron formation

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ironstone — I ron*stone , 1. n. A hard, earthy ore of iron. [1913 Webster] 2. {ironstone china}. [PJC] {Clay ironstone}. See under {Clay}. {Ironstone china}, a hard white pottery, first made in England during the 18th century. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ironstone — [ī′ərnstōn΄] n. 1. any rock rich in iron 2. a hard variety of white ceramic ware …   English World dictionary

  • ironstone — noun Date: 1522 1. a hard sedimentary rock rich in iron; especially a siderite in a coal region 2. ironstone china …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • ironstone — /uy euhrn stohn /, n. 1. any iron bearing mineral or rock with siliceous impurities. 2. Also called ironstone china. a hard white stoneware. [1515 25; IRON + STONE] * * * …   Universalium

  • ironstone — noun Any ore of iron which is impure through the admixture of silica or clay …   Wiktionary

  • ironstone — i|ron|stone [ aırn,stoun ] noun uncount 1. ) strong hard plates, cups, bowls, etc. made of a type of white clay 2. ) a type of hard stone that contains a lot of iron …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • ironstone — n. raw iron, iron ore …   English contemporary dictionary

  • ironstone — noun 1》 sedimentary rock containing a substantial proportion of iron compounds. 2》 a kind of dense, opaque stoneware …   English new terms dictionary

  • ironstone — noun (U) a type of rock that contains a lot of iron …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • ironstone — i•ron•stone [[t]ˈaɪ ərnˌstoʊn[/t]] n. 1) mir any iron bearing mineral or rock with siliceous impurities 2) cer Also called i′ronstone chi′na. a hard white stoneware • Etymology: 1515–25 …   From formal English to slang

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