This contribution assesses the dissolution behaviour of serpentinite specimens, featuring distinct stages of serpentinisation, by treating the specimens with aqueous solutions of formic acid. We have observed a marked improvement in the extraction of magnesium when the samples were finely ground and thermally conditioned before treatment with formic acid. An extraction of 42% for -25 μm particles activated at 700 °C (29% residual OH) could be obtained from the forsterite-lizardite bearing specimen whereas 66% of magnesium was leached out of the fully serpentinised antigorite mineral, which was crushed to a particle size of -53 μm and baked at 720 °C (36% residual OH). Combined results derived from FTIR and XRD indicate that heat activation between 500 and 720 °C results in a reorganisation of lizardite and antigorite to amorphised material, forsterite and silica. Unreactive enstatite forms from the amorphised material and silica once the heating temperature exceeds 800 °C. Semi-quantitative XRD analysis yields an estimate of the crystalline and non-crystalline (forsterite) fractions of the activated material, permitting approximation of relative rates of dissolution of amorphous and forsterite phases. Although FTIR provides important information on forsterite and silica formation, it cannot detect the amorphous material. Forsterite and amorphous phases alike dissolve in the weak acid but the formation of skins of the amorphous silica limits the overall magnesium yield on a laboratory time scale. The material that constitutes the skins originates from two sources: (i) silica formed in forsterisation of serpentine minerals undergoing heat treatment, and (ii) silica produced during extraction of Mg by a weak acid from amorphous and forsterite phases. Heat activation also leads to the formation of andradite and modified chlorite minerals that exhibit less solubility than forsterite and amorphous phases in weakly acidic medium.