We report the results of a comparative analysis focusing on grain size, mineralogical composition and spectral reflectance values (400-2500 nm) of cryoconite samples collected from Jakobshavn Isbræ, West Greenland, and Canada Glacier, McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. The samples from the Greenland site were composed of small particles clumped into larger rounded agglomerates, while those from the site in Antarctica contained fragments of different sizes and shapes. Mineralogical analysis indicates that the samples from Jakobshavn Isbræ contained a higher percentage of quartz and albite, whereas those from Canada Glacier contained a higher percentage of amphibole, augite and biotite. Spectral measurements confirmed the primary role of organic material in reducing the reflectance over the measured spectrum. The reflectance of the samples from the Antarctic site remained low after the removal of organic matter because of the higher concentration of minerals with low reflectance. The reflectance of dried cryoconite samples in the visible region was relatively low (e.g. between ∼0.1 and ∼0.4) favouring increased absorbed solar radiation. Despite high reflectance values in the shortwave infrared region, the effect of the presence of cryoconite is negligible at infrared wavelengths where ice reflectance is low.