Separation of Mixtures

Mixtures and Ways of Separating Mixtures

In chemistry, the material is made by the physical combination between two similar or different compounds that are mixed together in the form of a solution, colloids, and suspensions. The identities of such compounds are also retained. This is known as a mixture. But, they do not react chemically and are not certainly in a definite ratio. The various components from which mixture is formed have their own physical properties. There are two types of a mixture such as homogeneous and heterogeneous.


For example: If a mixture is made by mixing water and sugar then the mixture maintains the properties of both the elements.


Types of Mixtures

  • Homogeneous Mixtures:- These are the types of the mixture in which two or more compounds mixed are distributed uniformly throughout the mixture.

For example, Air and saline solution

  • Heterogeneous Mixtures:- These are the type of mixture in which two or more compounds are mixed unevenly or unequally.

For example Oil in water and Sand in water.


Methods of Separation of Mixtures

The process or methods of separation of different components of a mixture by the physical method is known as the separation of mixtures. 


The choice of techniques of separating mixture depends upon mixture type and difference in the chemical properties of the components of the mixture. 


Different Ways of Separating Mixtures

Some of the common techniques used in separating mixtures are as follow:

  • Separating funnel

  • Chromatography 

  • Evaporation 

  • Simple distillation 

  • Fractional distillation 

  • Centrifugation

  • Separating Funnel

A separating funnel is mostly used to segregate or separate the mixture's components between two immiscible liquid phases. The mainly aqueous phase and organic solvents are the two immiscible liquid phases found in this method respectively. The mechanism of separation depends upon the unequal density of the liquids. The liquid particles with more density are responsible for forming the lower layer and the upper layer is formed by the liquid having lesser density. This technique is used to separate oil and water.

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  • Chromatography

The separation technique used to separate the mixture components by passing it in the suspension or solution or as a vapor over a medium in which the mixture constitutes or components move at different rates. This technique is dependent on the various properties of compounds present in two phases i.e mobile and stationary phase. 


The technique involves dissolving the sample in a specific solvent known as a mobile phase which may be liquid or gas. This specific solvent is then passed over another phase present called a stationary phase. The separation is based upon different speeds at which different components of a mixture travels. 


Chromatography can be classified into various types:

  • Paper Chromatography

  • Thin layer Chromatography (TLC)

  • Column Chromatography

  • Gas Chromatography


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  • Evaporation

Evaporation is a method used to separate either homogeneous mixture usually two dissolved salts or a solution consisting of soluble solid and a solvent. The process typically involves heating of the solution until the organic solvent evaporates and no liquid remains behind as it turns into gas and leaves behind the solid components.


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  • Simple Distillation

An effective method used to separate a mixture that consists of two or more, pure or miscible liquids are known as distillation. It is a purification process in which the components of the liquid mixture are first vaporized and then condensed followed by isolation. In simple distillation, when the mixture is heated then the most volatile component vaporizes first at a lower temperature. The vapor moves through a cooled tube (condenser) and is collected after it gets condensate into a liquid state.

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  • Fractional Distillation

Fraction distillation is a technique used to separate a mixture that comprises two miscible liquids. The process implicates the heating of a liquid up to its boiling point. But, the difference in the boiling points of both the liquid should be less than 25K.

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  • Centrifugation

Centrifugation is a technique used for the separation of tiny solid particles from a liquid that can easily pass through a filter paper. Centrifugation is used for carrying out the separation of these insoluble particles where normal filtration fails to work well. The centrifugation depends upon the viscosity of the medium, speed of rotation, shape, size, and density of the particle. This technique is based on the principle that lighter particles stay at the top and heavier or denser particles are forced to move at the bottom when spun rapidly. The apparatus used for the centrifugation technique is called a centrifuge. The centrifuge mainly includes a centrifuge tube holder called rotary. It holds balanced centrifuge tubes that contain an equal amount of solid-liquid mixtures. 

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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1.Why the Separation of Mixture is Important and Write Some of its Applications?

Separation of the mixture is important so that the desired composition can be obtained from the mixture. It also helps in a better understanding of the components and how they are contributing to the chemical and physical properties of the resulting mixture.


Applications of methods of separation of the mixture are:

  1. Used in the separation of drugs from the blood.

  2. Used in Diagnostic Laboratories.

  3. Distillation of alcohol.

  4. Used in the separation of pigments from natural color.

  5. Used in various fraction separation from petroleum products.

2.Explain Some Common Ways of Separating Mixtures?

  • Filtration:- The most common method used for separation of pure components of a mixture containing different size particles include some that are large enough to be captured with the porous material.

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  • Sedimentation:- It is the method of separating a mixture containing liquid in which heavier impurities in the form of solid are present to settle down in the bottom of the container containing the mixture. 

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  • Magnetic Separation:- If one of the components in the mixture which needs to be separated has some magnetic properties then this method is quite applicable as strong magnets are used to separate the magnetic components.

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