Siderite has Mohs hardness of 3.5-4, a specific gravity of 3.8, a white streak and a vitreous or pearly luster.
Its crystals belong to the hexagonal system, and are rhombohedral in shape, typically with curved and striated faces. It also occurs in masses. Color ranges from yellow to dark brown or black, the latter being due to the presence of manganese (sometimes called manganosiderite). Siderite is commonly found in hydrothermal veins, and is associated with barite, fluorite, galena, and others. It is also a common diagenetic mineral in shales and sandstones, where it sometimes forms concretions. In sedimentary rocks, siderite commonly forms at shallow burial depths and its elemental composition is often related to the depositional environment of the enclosing sediments. In addition, a number of recent studies have used the oxygen isotopic composition of sphaerosiderite (a type associated with soils) as a proxy for the isotopic composition of meteoric water shortly after deposition.