Top 5 Scientific Mixture Separation Techniques and When to Use Them

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Scientific Mixture Separation Techniques

From homes to school laboratories and even high-level institutions such as medical and research facilities, separation of mixtures is a task you’ll encounter on a daily basis. Whether you are a researcher or a chemistry teacher, it’s imperative that you know the best technique to employ when separating different types of mixtures. Outlined below are some of the most important methods you should get acquainted with to enable you to efficiently fulfill your tasks:

  1. Chromatography


This technique is used where the mixture is dissolved in a fluid or gas, called a mobile phase, which is passed through a solid or chromatography paper, called a stationary phase. Depending on their densities and other factors, the components travel at different speeds, thus separating them. There are different types of chromatography for different applications. One of the most common types is paper chromatography which is used to separate color pigments. Other variations include thin layer chromatography, column chromatography, planar chromatography, and gas chromatography.

  1. Centrifugation


This is a process of separation which applies centrifugal force for separation of heterogeneous mixtures. The force generated separates components by displacing denser substances to the bottom and lighter substances to the top. Centrifugation is preferred when extracting biological molecules such as DNA and viruses. There are different types of centrifugation techniques such as differential centrifugation and likewise, there are many types of centrifuges from small bench centrifuges to large capacity refrigerated centrifuges among others. Depending on your objective, you would pick a specific technique which suits you. For instance, when separating viruses, it is advisable to employ the rate zonal centrifugation technique. If you’re interested in getting more information on what this method involves, the principles and applications of centrifugation can be found on biological sites.

  1. Simple distillation

This method is used to separate liquid components with different boiling points. Heat is applied to the mixture in a round-bottomed flask and the liquid with the lower boiling point evaporates first. The liquid vapor is then cooled and condensed into another collecting container. This leaves the other liquid with the higher boiling point in the round-bottomed flask. This technique is mostly applied in the distillation of alcohol.

  1. Filtration

This is a technique used to separate solid components from fluid components by using a filter which is the medium through which the mixture passes. The liquid components pass through the filter and are collected as the filtrate while the solid components are withheld as the solutes. Filtration is applied to separate solids in a fluid suspension, or solutes with different solubilities with regard to a fluid medium.

  1. Decantation

This process separates mixtures of an insoluble solid and a fluid or two immiscible liquids such as oil and water. It works by removing the liquid layer. The mixture is first allowed to stand so as to allow for settling of the solid; this is called sedimentation. The liquid is then gently poured, leaving the solute behind. An example of where this technique can be applied is when separating a mixture of red wine and potassium bitartrate crystals during purification of wine.

Author Bio: Bill Williams is a well-known blogger who writes on various categories like Travel, Health, Fashion, Business, and Technology. In this article he has mentioned about method involves, the principles and applications of centrifugation, can be found on biological sites such as

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