Ways to separate a Mixture

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Ways to separate a Mixture


Filtration is used to separate solid particles from a liquid.

• For example, pouring the mixture through a filter paper in a funnel will trap the solid particles and only allow the particles of the liquid to pass through.

• This method is used in water treatment plants as part of the process for separating dirt and other solid particles from water to produce clean drinking water.


Sifting is used to separate smaller solid particles from larger solid particles.

• For example, the mixture of different sized solid particles can be put into a container that has a screen material at the bottom with holes of a certain size.

When the mixture is shaken, the smaller particles go through the screen leaving the larger

Particles in the container.

• Cooks, for example, sift flour to get a small particle size for baking leaving larger particles of flour in the sifter above the screen.

Sand and gravel companies, for example, separate rocks into different sized particles for road building and other construction projects using this method.
Magnetic attraction

Magnetic attraction is used to separating magnetic material from a mixture of other substances.

• When a magnet is stirred through the mixture, it pulls out the magnetic material from the mixture.

• A cow magnet, for example, is given to a cow to swallow. It stays in the first stomach of the cow, keeping magnetic materials like wire and other harmful materials that cows swallow from going into the rest of their digestive system.


Evaporation is used to separate a solid that has dissolved in a liquid solution.

• The solution is heated or left uncovered until all the liquid turns to a gas (evaporates) leaving the solid behind.

• Salt in salt water or ocean water, for example, is separated by heating the solution until all the water evaporates leaving the solid salt in the container.


Chromatography is used to separate and analyze the solutes in a solution.

• For example, a small amount (2-3 drops) of the solution is put on a piece of filter paper, which is put in a solvent.

• The substances in the solution that dissolve most easily travel the furthest; and substances that do not dissolve easily do not travel very far.

• The bands of color that are formed allow scientists to identify the substances in the solution by comparing them to the location of known substances forming bands of color on different filter papers.

Floatation is used to separate solids that float from the remaining liquid in a mixture.

• The solids are stirred and when they float to the top, they are skimmed off the surface of the liquid and put into a different container.

This method is used, for example, in some water purification plants.

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