What mixtures can be separated by physical means?

It is possible to separate both homogeneous and heterogeneous mixtures using the physical properties of the substances in the mixture.

Several types of can be separated by physical means. Heterogeneous mixtures imply the different parts are not equally distributed, much like how on a pizza the toppings are not located in the crust. A homogeneous mixture is one where the components are equally mixed, such as orange juice or lemonade (excluding the pulp).

A common heterogeneous example is to separate oil from water by placing the mixture into a separation funnel and draining one level of liquid out. You then have the two separate components. Basically, if you can see the different layers in a mixture, you can physically remove them by either picking out the solids (either with your hands or running the mixture through filter paper) or for liquids using the funnel.

The video below shows how filtration can be used to separate calcium carbonate (chalk) from water.

Video from: Noel Pauller

Salt water is a common homogeneous mixture. You can’t see the difference between pure water and salt water. However, you can remove the salt from the water by boiling the water off (this is called distillation), and this is considered a physical change as opposed to chemically changing the water or the salt (changing the salt would be known as precipitation).

Here is a video of an experiment which uses distillation to purify water from a solution of salt water.

Video from: Noel Pauller

The property of solubility can be used to separate the components of a homogeneous mixture too. In this video, a technique called chromatography is used to separate the different pigments found in a black wet-erase marker.

Video from: Noel Pauller

Hope this helps!

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