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I am taken from a mine, and enclosed up in a wooden case, from which I am never let out, and yet I am used by most people. What am I?

I've been told this riddle, and so far haven't found out the answer. Can someone help me?

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  • $\begingroup$ If only someone were to invent a wooden furnace, then the answer could be coal (taken from a mine, placed in a wooden container to be burned, used by lots of people in the form of electrical energy, never let out because consumed in the furnace...unless one counts CO2 emissions, ash, and/or other combustion byproducts). $\endgroup$ – aroth Nov 6 '17 at 3:29
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    $\begingroup$ @aroth Wooden furnace? That would be quite a marvel of engineering. $\endgroup$ – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica Nov 6 '17 at 7:15
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    $\begingroup$ Since you never marked any of the answers as correct, I'm curious what the intended solution is now. $\endgroup$ – Mr Lister Nov 16 '17 at 11:52
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Are you

Graphite

I am taken from a mine

Graphite mines

And enclosed up in a wooden case

Pencils are wooden, and the core is graphite

From which I am never removed

You never take the graphite back out

And yet I am used by most people

Most people use pencils

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    $\begingroup$ This stuff is slowly removed over the lifetime of the object, until it is completely out. It also has far more uses than this, so if this is the answer, it's not a very good riddle $\endgroup$ – Suppen Nov 5 '17 at 10:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Suppen The actual phrasing is "never let out". One could try to lawyer around your objection by arguing that it's not "let out" (allowed to escape under its own means) but extracted (taken out by the user). Still, I agree that the riddle isn't very satisfying if this is the answer. By the way, I don't think it's a problem that the substance has many other used: the riddle claims it's used in this way, but not that it's the only use. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Nov 5 '17 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Suppen According to here: goodriddlesnow.com/riddles/by/what-am-i-riddles/page:5/sort:id/… Pencil Lead is the correct answer...Graphite is a common name for Pencil Lead. I agree that it is a bad riddle and a possibly un-cited one at that $\endgroup$ – Dr t Nov 5 '17 at 19:18
  • $\begingroup$ I also thought of the pencil, with the reservation that the graphite is not truly "enclosed". $\endgroup$ – mirkastath Nov 6 '17 at 4:21
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    $\begingroup$ My first thought too, pencil lead is a compound mixture of graphite and kaolin, both of which are mined. $\endgroup$ – Jasen Nov 6 '17 at 7:15
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It might not be the intended answer, but I can see a good fit in:

Quartz

I am taken from a mine

Quartz is the second most abundant mineral in Earth's continental crust and it is heavily mined, both for jewel-making and for its electrical properties.

and enclosed up in a wooden case

One very common use of quartz is in creating oscillators used in clocks. Almost every modern wooden-cased clock will contain a quartz crystal.

from which I am never let out

If a quartz crystal is placed into a clock case, there's no reason ever to remove it again.

and yet I am used by most people

Most people will own at least one item that contains quartz, whether it's a clock, a smartphone, jewelery, cookware...

The wording of the riddle leaves a little room for interpretation. It gives one way that that thing is used (in the case), but doesn't say that it's the only way, nor does it even stipulate that that's the way most people use it.

But to me this feels like a fair fit for going into the case and never being removed.

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    $\begingroup$ This is what I came here to offer as an answer. $\endgroup$ – Lance Nov 6 '17 at 1:02
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Could you simply be

a nail

I am taken from a mine

from mined iron

And enclosed up in a wooden "case"

When hammered into a plank

From which I am never removed

Or else the house / table / furniture / box / whatever would crumble

And indeed used by most people.

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Are you

The speaker unit in a household loudspeaker

I am taken from a mine

Steel, iron, copper, ...

And enclosed up in a wooden case

The speaker cabinet/enclosure - typically made of wood, except for small plastic speakers or embedded ones

From which I am never removed

You don't usually replace the speaker unit - when it's no longer good you replace the entire speaker.

And yet I am used by most people

Most people have or make use of loudspeakers at some time - for entertainment, at parties, in clubs, at home....

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    $\begingroup$ I like this one, if only because it serves to demonstrates the question is ambiguous. $\endgroup$ – Mr Lister Nov 5 '17 at 18:59
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Salt.

It is taken from a mine? Check.

Used by most people? Check. (All people, actually, which is a bit more than "most," but since "most" is a subset of "all," it's true that it is used by most people.

Enclosed in a wooden case and never removed? Eventually. Not for all people, but enough to make it true.

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  • $\begingroup$ I suppose the XXXX that people used in the last few days of their life will be enclosed in that wooden case. Also, it'll leach out over time. So this seems rather tenuous. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Nov 5 '17 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ Salt taken from a mine is rock salt. I was under the impression that the salt we consume is sea salt. $\endgroup$ – Tim Nov 6 '17 at 1:31
  • $\begingroup$ both types are available for consumption. also lake salt. $\endgroup$ – Jasen Nov 6 '17 at 7:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Tim The salt you consume is mostly whatever's cheapest in your particular area. That could be rock salt or sea salt. $\endgroup$ – David Richerby Nov 6 '17 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Tim Where I live, salt is rock salt unless it specifically says "sea salt" on the label. $\endgroup$ – Mr Lister Nov 7 '17 at 7:41
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My guess is :

A wedding ring

Because :

It is mined from a gold mine, most people (in the West, at least) get married and wear one, and they usually keep wearing it after they are buried in a wooden box.

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Are you

A door lock

I am taken from a mine

The lock in an ordinary house door is usually made of steel

And enclosed up in a wooden case

A fairly deep hole is cut into a wooden door to fit the lock, and the wood of the door encases the lock

From which I am never removed

Internal door locks (for ordinary domestic rooms) can last pretty much indefinitely - one might replace the handles but only rarely the part inside the door.

And yet I am used by most people

Household doors and latches are in every house, and the vast majority (internal doors at least) are wooden

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  • $\begingroup$ I just had to remove a door lock and replace it today haha. (Deadbolt and entire handle assembly) $\endgroup$ – user40125 Nov 6 '17 at 20:43
  • $\begingroup$ The Gods of Puz-El will be angry at you...... Just saying ;-) $\endgroup$ – Stilez Nov 6 '17 at 21:24

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