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Is milk a solution

This is one tricky question that many students might get confused with or answer incorrectly. Well, from a general perspective, we would say milk is a solution because it is basically a mixture containing proteins (casein and whey), lactose, trace elements, lipids, fats and other substances in water without any bonding. However, this is not technically correct.

To clarify, milk is not a proper solution rather it is an emulsion. We classify it in this category because milk has more than one phase suspended in it. Unlike a solution, where we observe the solute and solvent having only one phase, the milk here is an emulsified colloid. Meaning, it has a dispersed phase (or the suspended particles) and a continuous phase (the medium of suspension), which is a result of phase separation. We can also say that milk is an emulsified colloid.

If we take homogenized milk, it is basically a colloid mixture where the big molecules of fat are broken down and uniformly dispersed in small particles. Furthermore, these particles do not settle down when left undisturbed within the liquid. As a result, these do not recombine and separate from the milk.

Also Read:Colloids

Unhomogenized milk on the other hand is a suspension. Here, the fat or the cream will separate from the rest of the milk and float on the top after standing.

Now if we ask whether milk is a heterogeneous mixture or not. As described earlier, milk is a colloidal dispersion of fat in water but here the two components (fat and water) do not mix with each together to form a solution. We have two separate immiscible liquid phases. This makes milk a heterogeneous mixture.

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