Dropped items are the miniature 'floating' blocks that you can pick up (if you have room in your inventory). They can be created in several ways. Simply dropping an item from inventory is one way. Animals cannot pick up dropped items.
What items can be dropped?
Dropped Item Sources
Any time you break a block with the proper tool or better, the block 'drops' so you can pick it up. Regular terrain will usually drop a copy of itself. Ore blocks usually drop 1 or more of their ores or crystals. Breaking granite will drop cobblestone while breaking gravel may drop a gravel block and/or flint. Some blocks such as glass, will drop nothing.
An explosion will create debris and some of this may become dropped items that you may pick up.
Dropped items will remain available for pickup for about 4 minutes.
Most items will be burned and lost if you drop them in fire or magma. Some may explode.
Please note that dropping an item is NOT the same as throwing an item.
Not all animals drop items when killed. See individual animal pages for descriptions.
1.0: Initial release. Items could be dropped to make room in inventory.
1.22: Animals eat food that is dropped.