# Are those magnetic iron filings in the dirt pure iron?

When I was a kid we used to drag magnets around in the dirt and collect "iron filings". Are they pure iron, or something else?

• How in the world would anyone be able to know? There are many different sorts of dirt out there, after all. – Ivan Neretin Aug 22 '20 at 21:41
• I’m voting to close this question because we just don't know. – Todd Minehardt Aug 22 '20 at 22:10
• Metallic iron deposits are exceptionally rare in the natural environment. The filings were almost certainly not iron, unless they were scraps or powders from human-based industrial operations. – Curt F. Aug 23 '20 at 0:56
• The earth surface is littered* with rust particles, mostly from human sources. $\ce{Fe2O3}$ is magnetic. – Karl Aug 23 '20 at 6:46