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Properties of Colloids

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Last updated date: 15th Jul 2024
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Introduction to Properties of Colloids

The nature of the colloidal solution varies i.e. is not the same. These solutions fall into two distinct categories:

  • Dispersed Medium

  • Dispersed Phase

Despite the fact that colloidal dispersion is not the same in definition (nature), scattered fragments are not visible to the human eye. This is due to the small size of the particles in the solution.

The colour of colloidal dispersion is determined by the particles of the solution based on their size. The wavelength of the absorbent light will be longer if the particle size is greater.

Due to its size, colloidal particles can be easily transferred with traditional filter paper. However, these particles can be filtered using animal-like filters, cellophane, and ultrafilters filters.

A type of mixture consisting of particles whose size varies between 1 and 1000 nanometers is a colloidal solution. The particles are uniformly distributed in the colloidal solution. The particles do not settle down during this process. The properties and variability of colloids have been a well-known field since the primitive period. The best example to illustrate their familiarity with us is that we know that coagulation of milk results in the formation of curd from very early times.

In this article, we will study in detail-

  • The characteristics of colloids

  • The stability of colloids

  • The optical properties of colloids

  • The electrical properties of colloids

  • The kinetic properties of colloids

Properties of Colloidal Solution

  1. Heterogeneity - colloidal solution is heterogeneous in nature as it consists of the dispersed phase and the dispersion medium.

  2. The particles present in the colloidal solution are not visible and hence the solution appears homogeneous in nature.

  3. The particles of colloidal solution can pass easily through filter paper but can be retained through animal membranes, ultrafilters, and cellophane.

  4. Lyophilic sols in general and lyophobic sols in the absence of substantial concentrations are quite stable.

  5. The colour of the colour solution depends on the size of the particle. The larger particle will absorb the light of a longer wavelength and shorter particles will absorb the light of a shorter wavelength.

Optical Properties of Colloids

Tyndall Effect

  • When a beam of light is passed through a colloidal solution kept in dark, the path of the beam gets illuminated with blue colour.

  • This phenomenon is known as the Tyndall effect and the path is known as the Tyndall cone.

  • The Tyndall effect is due to the scattering of light by colloidal particles.

  • Tyndall effect is not exhibited by a true solution. This is due to the particles in the solution are too small to scatter light.

Kinetic Properties of Colloids

Brownian Movement

  • The continuous zigzag movement of particles in the dispersion medium in a colloidal solution is called Brownian movement.

  • Brownian movement is due to the unequal bombardment of the moving molecules of dispersion medium on colloidal particles.

  • Brownian movement decreases with an increase in the size of the colloidal particles. So suspension does not exhibit the Brownian movement.

Electrical Properties of Colloids

  • The movement of colloidal particles towards a particular electrode under the influence of an electric field. 

  • The colloidal particle with a positive charge moves towards the cathode under the influence of the electric field and the colloidal particle with a negative charge moves towards the anode.


The movement of dispersion medium under the influence of an electric field in a situation when the movement of the dispersed phase is prevented by a suitable membrane.

What are the Main Features of Colloidal Solutions?

The main features of colloidal solutions are as follows.

  1. Heterogeneous Nature: Colloidal sols are biodiversity. They consist of two categories; dispersed phase and the dispersion medium. 

  2. Stable environment: Colloidal solutions are stable. Their particles are in motion and do not settle to the bottom of the container.

  3. Filtering: Colloidal particles easily pass through standard filter sheets. However, they can be stored in special filters known as ultrafilters (leather paper).

Colligative Properties-

  1. Due to the formation of associated molecules, the calculated values ​​of the contrasting areas such as a moderate decrease in vapor pressure, height in boiling area, pressure in a cold environment, and osmotic pressure are less than expected.

  2. With colloidal sol given the number of particles will be much smaller compared to the actual solution.

Disadvantages with colloids:

It is difficult to remove and clean.

They can cause significant losses in output or analysis, which later show more content

  • Targeted Drug Delivery: The liver and spleen take up liposome which is the best colloidal product. The colloidal system is therefore used in targeted drug delivery.

  • Nuclear Medicine: In nuclear medicine, colloidal particles containing radioactive isotopes are often used as diagnostic and therapeutic agents. Example: Colloidal Gold.

Advantages of Colloids

  1. Colloidal particles allow the dispersion of insoluble materials such as metallic gold and fats. They can be used more easily and absorbed more easily.

  2. Colloidal gold can be used in medicine to carry drugs and antibiotics

  3. The paint industry uses colloids in the preparation of paints.

  4. In milk, the colloidal suspension of fats prevents the milk from being thick and allows for easy absorption of nutrients.

  5. Asphalt is emulsified in water used in the preparation of roads.

  6. Soap solution is colloidal in nature which helps in removing dirt.

  7. Food particles like butter, milk, and ice cream are colloidal in nature.

Did You Know?

  • Coagulation is a phenomenon involving the precipitation of a colloidal solution on the addition of an electrolyte.

  • Flocculation Value- The coagulating power of an electrolyte is expressed in terms of its flocculation value which is defined as the minimum concentration of an electrolyte required for the coagulation of a sol.

  • A smaller flocculation value shows the greater coagulating power of an electrolyte.

  • So coagulating power is inversely proportional to the flocculating value.

  • The coagulation of colloids can be achieved by various methods-

  • By electrophoresis

  • By mixing two opposite sols

  • By persistent dialysis.


We have covered all the major aspects of Properties of Colloids that students can use for learning and understanding the concepts.

FAQs on Properties of Colloids

1. Does blood show the Tyndall effect?

Blood is a colloidal solution as the blood cell size ranges from 1nm to 100nm and thus blood shows the Tyndall effect. Yes. The blood shows the effect of Tyndall, in front of the beam of light passing through it. The Tyndall effect is shown by colloidal solutions. Blood is a colloidal solution composed of regularly dispersed blood cells ranging in size from 1 nanometre to 100 nanometres. The milk and starch solution is colloid, which is why it shows the effect of Tyndall. For more information, you can download the PDF format from the Vedantu website.

2. Why is milk a colloidal solution?

Milk is a colloid, suspended in the fluid with small globs of butterfat. Whipped cream is also a colloid. Typically, colloids don't separate over time into their components. Milk appears to be a homogeneous mixture, colloid because it has small globules of fat and protein that do not settle after freezing due to charged particles (which are often bad). These particles repel each other so that they do not collapse into larger particles that will settle.

3. What are the electrical characteristics of colloids?

On both layers, the charge present is identical. This two-layer structure contributes to the growth of a potential called zeta or Electrokinetic potential. As a result of this potential that has formed through the particles, these particles shift under the influence of the electric field. 1. The occurrence of colloidal particles under the applied electric field is called electrophoresis. 2. Colloid electrical properties can also be described by the double-layer electric theory. According to this theory, a double layer of ions emerges from the solid surface.

4. What is the classification of colloids?

The colloid is called a compound in which one component of fine particles is combined with another. The substances that dissolve in the solution are called the dispersed phase and the solution to be dispersed is called the dispersion medium. Based on the types of colloids, their classification is done. These are classified as follows:

  • Multimolecular Colloids- A large number of small molecules of matter are grouped to form species in a colloidal range.

  • Macromolecular Colloids- In this colloid, a macromolecule forms a solution with a solvent.

  • Associated Colloids- Few substances react like strong electrolytes when they are low, but they act as colloidal sol when they are high.

5. Why is Vedantu preferable for referring to the study material for properties of colloids?

Vedantu is preferable for many reasons for the students. Successful in teaching a big line of students, the expert teachers in Vedantu are determined to make every student more experienced and learned. Vedantu is more focused on transferring comprehensive knowledge and analytical skills to the students. The topic properties of colloids are discussed in detail on the Vedantu website. Hence, it is highly recommended for the students to refer to Vedantu for any doubt. Enjoy the free course of learning from the experts at Vedantu.