Separation Techniques

Hand Sorting: using your hands to sort out substances based on their colour, size or shape.


Sieving is used to separate solid particles where the particle sizes are different.

Separation techniques are methods used to separate mixtures.  

A mixture is defined as elements and compounds which are mixed together and are easily separated. 

Some separation techniques are simple: Hand sorting for example.  If you were given a packet of wine gums and you didnt like the green ones, you would use your fingers to sort them out.

Marbles - Hand Sorting
Different sized industrial sieves

These sieves would be used be a gardener to sieve out rocks and big lumps or soil when preparing a new bed for planting.  

Magnet with iron filings

Using magnets to separate a magnetic substance from a mixture is also a simple separation technique. 

Decanting is used when you are separating 2 liquids with different densities, or a liquid with undissolved solid particles.  

This can either be done using a separating funnel or very carefully pouring off the liquid.

Decanting a liquid and an insoluble solid

Filtration is used to separate an insoluble solid from a liquid.

Filtration Diagram

Coffee is made by filtering out the soluble coffee from the insoluble coffee grounds,

Swimming pools also have a filtration system.  The grey barrel below is full of sand.  The pool water is pumped through the sand and all of the insoluble debris like leaves are filtered out of the water. 

Swimming pool filtration system
Coffee Filter
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All images sourced from unless otherwise stated