Methods of Separation

Most of the time the substances that we see around us are not in their pure form. They are basically a mixture of two or more substances. Interestingly, mixtures tend to also come in different forms. Therefore, there are several types of separation techniques that are used in segregating a mixture of substances. As for the need for separation, it is usually done to remove all the unwanted materials and obtain useful components.

Table of Contents

Methods Of Separating Mixtures

Some of the common methods of separating substances or mixtures are:

  • Handpicking
  • Threshing
  • Winnowing
  • Sieving
  • Evaporation
  • Distillation
  • Filtration or Sedimentation
  • Separating Funnel
  • Magnetic Separation

Let us discuss them in detail below.



This method involves simply picking out all the unwanted substances by hand and separating them from useful ones. The separated substances may be an impurity that has to be thrown away or maybe that both the separated substances are useful. For example – if you separate black grapes from green ones from a mixture of the two.



This method is mostly done during the harvesting of crops. Normally, the stalks of the wheat are dried once it is harvested. The grain is then separated from the stalks and grounded into the floor by beating the dry stalks to shake off the dried grains.



When the grains are collected from the process of threshing, it needs to be cleared out of husks and chaffs before it is turned into flour. Normally the separation of the mixture is carried out with the help of wind or blowing air. The husk and chaff are blown away by the strong wind when the farmers drop the mixture from a certain height to the ground. The heavier grains are collected at one place.



It is done to separate mixtures that contain substances mostly of different sizes. The mixture is passed through the pores of the sieve. All the smaller substances pass through easily while the bigger components of the mixture are retained.



Evaporation is a technique that is used in separating a mixture, usually a solution of a solvent and a soluble solid. In this method, the solution is heated until the organic solvent evaporates where it turns into a gas and mostly leaves behind the solid residue.



When mixtures consist of two or more pure liquids than distillation is used. Here the components of a liquid mixture are vaporized, condensed and then isolated. The mixture is heated and the component which is volatile evaporates first. The vapour moves through a condenser and is collected in a liquid state.

Filtration or Sedimentation

Filtration or Sedimentation

The most common method of separating a liquid from an insoluble solid is the filtration. Take, for example, the mixture of sand and water. Filtration is used here to remove solid particles from the liquid. Various filtering agents are normally used like filtering paper or other materials.

Sedimentation process

Sedimentation is a process by which heavier impurities present in liquid normally water settle down at the bottom of the container containing the mixture. The process takes some amount of time.

Separating Funnel

Separating Funnel

Separating funnel is used mainly to segregate two immiscible liquids. The mechanism involves taking advantage of the unequal density of the particles in the mixture. Oil and water can be easily separated using this technique.

Magnetic Separation

Magnetic Separation

When one substance in the mixture has some magnetic properties then this method is quite useful. Strong magnets are commonly used to separate magnetic elements.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQs


What are chemical methods of separation?

Distillation, crystallisation, adsorption, membrane procedures, absorption and stripping, and oxidation are the typical chemical engineering methods of isolation and purification.


How can you separate sand and salt?

It either remains in the bath as sand is applied to the bath or forms a film on the bottom of the bottle. Consequently, sand does not dissolve in water and is insoluble. Through separating the mixture, it is easy to segregate sand and water. Salt by evaporation may be isolated from a solution.


What are two types of mixtures?

Two types of mixtures exist: heterogeneous and homogeneous. Two or more ingredients (or phases, regions with standardised structure and properties) intermingle in heterogeneous mixtures but remain physically distinct.


Is Coca Cola a mixture?

Although the sugar and water are blended equally in the solution, Coca cola is a homogeneous mixture. You can also see the basic ingredients in a homogeneous mixture such as coca cola, but heterogeneous means that you can see the basic ingredients such as a salad.


Can homogeneous mixtures be separated?

Components in homogeneous mixtures “can typically be distinguished by taking account of the varying properties of the different components.” A mixture can be heated “until the component that boils at the lowest temperature becomes a vapour and can be distinguished” during the distillation process.

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  4. Sedimentation and decantàtion

    • Sedimentation is a physical water treatment process that uses gravity to remove suspended solids from water. Solid particles formed by the turbulence of moving water can be naturally removed by sedimentation in the still water of lakes and oceans.

      Decantation is the process of separating liquids, and the potential benefit of decantation is to separate liquid from precipitate. An example of this gain can be seen when making brewed coffee, decanting the blend of coffee, and removing the coffee from the coffee grounds.

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  8. What magnetic seperation ?

    • Magnetic separation is the process of separating components of mixtures by using magnets to attract magnetic materials. The process that is used for magnetic separation detaches non-magnetic material with those that are magnetic.

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