The name was coined in 1861 and is derived from the Greek kamask (lath or beam). It is a major constituent of iron meteorites (octahedrite and hexahedrite types). In the octahedrites it is found in bands interleaving with taenite forming Widmanstätten patterns. In hexahedrites, fine parallel lines called Neumann lines are often seen, which are evidence for structural deformation of adjacent kamacite plates due to shock from impacts.
At times kamacite can be found so closely intermixed with taenite that it is difficult to distinguish them visually. The largest documented kamacite crystal measured 92×54×23 cm.