Separation Techniques, Chemistry tutorial


Any topic in chemistry needs a proper understanding of the apparatus and familiarity with the reagents. Likewise, it is significant that we are capable to follow the instruction accordingly whenever conducting practical work and be honest when reporting our observation and computations. In this chapter we will observe the concept of instrumentation and also different separation methods you might be applying according to the task at hand.


In this part, we will be looking at different instruments which will be required in the studying chemistry. Instrumentation is a skillful method of recognizing, substituting and utilizing correct apparatus suitably in the laboratory. The first task you must carry out is to familiarize yourself with certain fundamental and generally used apparatus in University chemistry laboratory. 

Some generally employed apparatus found in the chemistry laboratories arc not unrelated to the different experiments designed for that course. Most employed instruments comprise:

1) Melting point tubes: These are fundamentally used for finding out the melting points of substances. The melting point tube is often employed in experiments that cover the determination of molecular weight of substances.

2) Balance: This is a very significant instrument in the laboratory for weighing substances. They differ in kinds and types.

3) Titration apparatus: It covers back titration, conductance titration and direct titration. The common apparatus employed comprise pipette, beakers, burette, conical flask, measuring cylinder and volumetric flask. The pipette for example is calibrated. It is quite necessary that whenever experiments are to be performed. You must always make use of the correct method and correct measure whenever using apparatus.

4) Thermometer: There are different kinds which are employed for measuring hotness or coldness of an object: The Beckman thermometer is used in the Beckman's apparatus for determining the freezing point of a substance. A thermometer is as well employed mother apparatus like simple steam distillation apparatus.

5) pH meter: This is for measuring the strength of an acid or base.

6) Electrochemical cells: Various types of this exist and must be cable to differentiate. We have the conductance cell as well.

7) Barometer: This is one kind of apparatus; we must know how to use. This is employed for measuring pressure and can be found helpful in Barometric method of measuring the vapor pressure.

8) An Ostwald viscometer:  It is employed for measuring the viscosity of a substance.

685_Flame calorimeter.jpg

Fig: Flame Calorimeter

The other apparatus comprise Bomb calorimeter or simple calorimeter, test tubes of various types (that is, micro test tubes, semi-micro test tubes), crucible (example - porcelain crucible), chromatographic column, desiccators, conductivity meter, conductivity cell, fractional distillation  apparatus and  Bunsen burner.

In physical chemistry, there are a number of fundamental experiments which you should actively participate in. The common activities which we will frequently engage with such experimentations comprise the followings.

1) Measurements: Often times, mostly we find it difficult to measure accurately when we undergo the given tasks:

a) Weighing substances by using the balance.

b) Reading the thermometer:

c) Collecting the specified volume from an unknown quantity by employing pipette or measuring the cylinder.

2) Heating: At secondary school level, hardly do some of we make use of the Bunsen burner. It demands some skills to use or else if not skilled handled results in danger or was might be direct harm by using the Bunsen burner.

3) Recording yields, drawing and plotting the graphs: For these assignments, math is as well a critical task of chemistry practical work. We must be mathematically friendly to calculation and DMA management.

4) Explaining and supporting observations with the related theories: There is no doubt that we need to do some research to our practical work.

5) Computations might comprise determination of some quantities and functional computations: For illustration - we can be asked to find out the solubility of salts in water at a particular temperature electrical conductance and molecular weight.

Reporting Practical Work:

Most of the reporting is somewhat which is given a place in chemistry even where laboratory manuals are given. The laboratory manual format differs as the number of lecturers comprised. As well the reporting style differs as many as the number of supervisors comprising students in practical work. At times, the results and not the procedure are main emphasis of the supervisors. There must be several guidelines to place you on the right course whenever reporting practical work. Let us just illustrate the main headlines which should for all time be pointed out in your report.

l) The aim of the Experiment: Each and every experiment should for all time encompass a title pointing out the aim or what it is to be accomplished by the end of the experiment.

2) Theory: It is the theoretical frame which throws light on the baseline of the experiment.  It draws the conditions basis and outcomes of the experiments.

3) Apparatus: We require to list out the apparatus and also the reagents in their definite quantity and measurements correspondingly. Where a lab manual is given, further readings become essential for you to be capable to carry out the experiment by little or no difficulty.

4) Activities: A short explanation of the procedure must be given. At times, the specified instruction in the lab manual might deviate partially and or fully from the conditions or steps in reality followed. Lastly, we will require providing an illustration why that method is adopted by you.

5) Recording accurately the result and Errors: There is no experiment which is perfectly completed. There is the possibility of several sources of errors that must be reported and could validate the reason for some deviations in the results.

6) Tabulation: Often in chemistry, it is advisable to for all time tabulate data for efficient management, overview and relativity.

7) Answers to Questions:  In several cases, a few questions are raised to allow you relate your findings to theoretical principles or values. Straight forward, very short and direct answers are predicted from you.

Separation Techniques:

Most of the substances as we all know exist in the impure form in nature. They need to be made pure before use. A pure substance is a homogenous material that includes only one substance.  Name any pure element you know. Do you state pure crystalline element of diamond? Yes, you are right. There are numerous impure elements, compounds which you will come across in the study of physical chemistry.

Mainly the impure substances are mixtures. Whether the mixture is homogeneous or heterogeneous, the separation methods could be applied to separate the components. These mixtures are separated by employing appropriate methods which depend on:

a) Relative solubility of the solute in solvent.

b) The absorbent sodium.

c) The crystalline/non-crystalline; gas/solid/liquid; metallic/non-metallic; organic/inorganic nature of the constituents.

Separation Processes:

The list of the separation process which can be employed to separate the mixture constituents are Evaporation, simple and fractional distillation, sublimation, crystallization, precipitation and chromatography.

Let us consider each of such methods one by one.


The constituents in a solution mixture can be separated through applying a principle of equilibrium. Assume that the mixture components are silver trioxonitrate (V) salt and sodium chloride. These two substances have high solubility in the water. What ions will be made in the solution mixture. Your list must read Ag+, Cl- and Na+.

In this solution, AgCl will be formed.

Ag+ (aq) + Cl-(aq) → AgCl (s)

And this is slightly soluble in water. The formation of a solid from a solution is known as precipitation.


Crystallization is a method that chemists make use of to purify the solid compounds. It is one of the basic procedures each and every chemist must master to become expert in the laboratory. It is based on the principles of solubility: compounds (that is, solutes) tend to be more soluble in hot liquids (that is, solvents) than they are in cold liquids. Whenever a saturated hot solution is allowed to cool, the solute is no longer soluble in the solvent and makes crystals of pure compound. Impurities are barred from the growing crystals and the pure solid crystals can be separated from the dissolved impurities through filtration.

This simplified scientific explanation of crystallization doesn't provide a realistic picture of how the method is accomplished in the laboratory. Instead, successful crystallization relies on the blend of science and art; its success based more on observation, experimentation, imagination, and skill than on physical and mathematical predictions. Understanding the method of crystallization in itself will not make a student a master crystallizer; this understanding should be combined by laboratory practice to gain the proficiency in this method.


You will learn more regarding these methods however sublimation as a method is as well crucial as any other separation methods. It refers to a method in which the solid directly evaporates without it melting.

Fill your ice cube trays by water, put them in the freezer, and the next day, you will get ice cubes formed via a process known as freezing. If you drop such ice cubes on the floor, soon they will have melted to a puddle of water. Freezing and melting are two general phase transitions or changes in the states of matter to or from solid, liquid, gas and plasma.

Sublimation is the other one of these phase transitions; apart from in this case, we encompass a solid turning directly into the gas. As a sublimating material changes from a solid to a gas, it never passes via the liquid state. The figure illustrates the sublimation method.


Fig: Sublimation

Paper Chromatography:

This process is often employed in the food industry. This is employed to recognize chemicals (that is, coloring agents) in foods or inks. For illustration, if a scientist wishes to identify how many substances are in a specific blob of ink, paper chromatography can be employed.


This is a more general process of separating an insoluble solid from a liquid. An illustration of such a mixture is sand and water. Filtration is employed in water treatment plants, where water from rivers is filtered to take away solid particles.


Evaporation is enormous for separating a mixture (that is, solution) of a soluble solid and a solvent. The method comprises heating the solution till the solvent evaporates (turns to gas) leaving behind the solid remains.

Simple distillation:

This process is best for separating a liquid from a solution. In a manner, the concept is identical to evaporation; however in this case, the vapor is collected via condensation. For illustration, if you want to separate water from the salt solution, simple distillation would be excellent for this.

Fractional distillation:

Alike to simple distillation, the fractional distillation is best for separating a solution of two miscible liquids (that is, Miscible liquids are the liquids which dissolve in one other). Fractional method takes benefit of the different boiling points of the two liquids.


Magnetism is ideal for separating the mixtures of two solids by one part having magnetic properties. A few metals such as iron, nickel and cobalt encompass magnetic properties whereas silver, gold and aluminum don't. The magnetic elements are attracted to the magnet.

Separating funnel:

In this method, two liquids which don't dissolve very well in each other (that is, immiscible liquids) can be separated via taking benefit of their unequal density. The mixture of oil and water, for illustration, can be separated by this method.

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