Published June 2014 • Updated June 2022 • Read Time: 6 minutes
Howlite is a white mineral found only in North America. It is popular in the healing crystal industry and a sweet addition to any collection. But, buyer beware, it looks virtually identical to the less-popular Magnesite. Rather than celebrate their differences, Magnesite is often purposefully mislabeled as Howlite! To further confuse the matter, some factories will dye these two white stones blue so that they can be sold as cheap “Turquoise.” Natural white Howlite is well worth the effort of seeking out and getting to know. For those who will listen to its gentle counsel, it invites us to be patient and calm. It helps us to be compassionate towards people even when they are acting ridiculous.
Howlite has a wonderfully soft and peaceful energy that gently expands outward when used during meditation, prayer or spiritual journeying. It calms our spirit, helping us to find a sense of balance in our everyday life and to connect more directly with our Highest Self and other guides. Howlite encourages us to believe in our dreams and to not hesitate when action is needed. It is a stone of patience and wisdom.
Emotional Healing Properties
Howlite quiets the ‘inner critic’ which is often so unkind, and replaces that voice with one more compassionate, patient and tactful. Howlite helps us to calmly and clearly express our own thoughts and emotions and to better understand what other people are trying to communicate, both verbally and non-verbally. Howlite is particularly helpful for handling boisterous children in a loving fashion which nevertheless commands their attention and respect. Howlite can help us to better handle rude behavior or thoughtlessness of other people. It gently releases stress and irritation from our emotional body, and reduces outright anger by channeling it in a productive direction. Howlite encourages us to speak and act with true decency towards others and to encourage this humanitarian spirit in others.
Mental Healing Properties
Howlite inspires good, thoughtful reasoning. It is a wonderful stone for scholars and students as it encourages a love of learning and improves memory retention. It inspires patience and a willingness to observe, experiment, and carefully analyze before jumping to any conclusions. Howlite teaches discernment and can help us to give and receive constructive criticism in a more palatable way so that it is easier to accept and integrate. It also reminds us to be patient with ourselves and our learning process, while remaining ambitious and eager to go after our goals.
Physical Healing Properties
Howlite is reminds us to pay attention to what we eat and make sure we get the nutrients we need. It can help us explore dietary problems, which lead to harmful weight-gain or weight-loss. It reminds us that the body wants to be healthy and balanced and that giving our body good food and proper portions is an act of wisdom and self-love. Howlite is particularly recommended for anyone exploring the role of calcium levels in their body. It is a lovely talisman for anything to do with teeth, bones, cartilage, as well as illness such as osteoporosis. It is also a sweet crystal for anyone suffering from insomnia or nightmares. Howlite helps us to calm down and to engage in soothing activities. Don’t be surprised if Howlite’s recommendation is “how about you have a nice glass of warm milk, and then hop back into bed.”
Where does Howlite come from?
Howlite is found only in Canada (Nova Scotia) and the United States (California). Much of the “Howlite” on the market is actually Magnesite from Zimbabwe
Mining and Treatments
Most Howlite enters the commercial market as a secondary mineral produced by large-scale Gypsum mines. Gypsum is an important economic mineral that forms in massive deposits in dry desert regions. After being mined, the Gypsum is pulverized to create a fine powder known as ‘Plaster of Paris’, which when mixed with water becomes a lightweight, easy-to-shape clay. Upon drying, the plaster hardens back into pure Gypsum. This process is widely used in construction projects, to protect and decorate inner walls. It was also sometimes used for orthopedic casts to set broken bones. Howlite is mined alongside the Gypsum and may be discarded or sold to collectors, for decorative or metaphysical purposes.
Howlite is a Borate mineral. Borates are a group of minerals which contain the elements of Boron and Oxygen. There are more than 230 types of Borate minerals, most of them quite rare. A few of them, including Howlite, are more common and can form large deposits. These family of minerals is almost exclusively mined industrially and is not well-known within the healing crystal community. They are often used to make products that remove stains such as laundry detergent, household cleaners and even personal care products.
Howlite’s energy works well with its family – other Borate minerals. Try it in combination with rare crystals such as Colemanite, Kernite and Ulexite
Howlite is created when volcanic activity causes Borate-bearing solutions to flow into enclosed basins. The liquid floods the basin floor, cools and partially evaporates, leaving behind a stratified mineral deposit, which is subsequently buried under more layers of sentiment. Such Borate-rich deposits are typically found in dry desert environments, such as Death Valley in California, USA. Howlite typically forms white nodular masses which often resemble cauliflower. However, on very rare occasions, it may form into tabular-shaped crystals, for example in Tick Canyon, California, USA and in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Howlite’s energy works well with its “friends” – crystal associates formed in the same geological environment. Try it in combination with Angelite and Selenite.
What is the difference between Howlite and Magnesite?
Howlite and Magnesite look extremely similar, but are actually completely different stones scientifically. Howlite is a calcium borosilicate, while Magnesite is a magnesium carbonite. Both minerals are fragile (3.5 Mohs) but Magnesite is a little bit heavier. Howlite tends to have light-gray markings, while Magnesite has dark-gray markings. However, the shade of gray is just a general guide, rather than a strict rule.
Unfortunately, it is common practice to mislabel Magnesite and sell it as Howlite. This mislabeling often occurs at the wholesaler level, rather than the retail level. It is unclear whether it is a mistake due to ignorance or a deliberate decision for marketing purposes. Most retailers rely on the wholesaler to correctly identify minerals. Howlite and Magnesite are rarely found in the same location, so knowing where your crystal comes from is the most reliable way of distinguishing these two stones.
White or pale grey, commonly marked with grey/black/dark brown intersecting veins
Nodular masses, rare crystals
Conchoidal to uneven
Hardness – Mohs Scale
3.5 (opaque stone), 6.5 (transparent crystals)
Fluorescent, Long UV=bright sky blue
Translucent (rare) to opaque (common)
History of Howlite
Howlite is found only in North America, so it’s healing properties have only recently been documented. It was not included in any of the ancient or medieval Old World lapidaries, texts that describe gemstones and their powers. It is however, included in many modern lapidaries. The white stone was first documented in 1868 in a Canadian Gypsum mine in Nova Scotia. The miners complained about a stone that was getting in the way of their mining, and this complaint soon came to the attention of Henry How (1828-1879), a mineralogist connected with the Nova Scotia Museum. How soon determined that the stone was actually a new mineral and he included it in his book, The Mineralogy of Nova Scotia, calling it “silico-boro-calcite.” After How’s death, one of his students, James Dwight Dana (1813-1895), re-named the mineral Howlite in honor of his teacher.
Howlite and Magnesite look very similar and both are easily dyed. When dyed blue, they resemble expensive Turquoise and may be sold under that name. The cheap Turquoise costume jewelry or cheap tumbled Turquoise nuggets you may have seen are all fake, usually a dyed stone, but occasionally plastic. Real Turquoise is expensive. In years past, most of the cheap Turquoise sold as tumbled stones or nuggets was dyed Howlite from Tick Canyon, California, USA. Today, it is more likely to be Magnesite from Zimbabwe.
Occasionally these two white stones are sold in their natural white color, but marketed as a rare and expensive “White Buffalo Turquoise.” Real Turquoise is always blue or green, it is never white, so don’t be fooled!
Julie Abouzelof is the owner of Moonrise Crystals and an advocate for responsibly sourced gems and minerals. Her first career was in education teaching history, geology and anthropology, as well as working with special-needs students. She is now a heart-centered entrepreneur who encourages mindfulness and positive action to heal ourselves and the world. Julie lives in Hawaii with her lover and a little parrot named Darwin.