Distillation–Separation of a Mixture, Chemistry tutorial

Distillation - Separation of a Mixture


  • To purify a compound via separating it from a non-volatile or less-volatile substance.
  • To divide a mixture of 2 miscible liquids (liquids that mix in every one proportions) through diverse boiling points.


Large test


  test tube rack (1)

10-mL graduated


50-mL round

bottom flask

Clamp (1 or 2)

 heating mantle

condenser (1 or 2)


Ring stand

glass adaptor


rubber tubing (2)

Boiling chips



50- mL round bottom


unknowns ( A and



Distillation is one of the oldest and at rest main general process for both the decontamination and the identification of organic liquids. It is a physical process utilized to divide chemicals from a mixture via the difference in how simply they vaporize. As the mixture is heated, the temperature increases until it attains the temperature of the lowest boiling substance in the mixture, while the further components of the mixture stay in their original phase in the mixture. The consequential hot vapour passes into a condenser and is exchanged to the liquid that is then assembled in a receiver flask. The other components of the mixture remain in their original phase until the most unpredictable substance has all boiled off. Simply then does the temperature of the gas phase amplify once more until it accomplishes the boiling point of a second component in the mixture, and so on.

The boiling point of a substance - find out via distillation - is a helpful physical property for the characterization of pure compounds.

At any given temperature a liquid is in equilibrium via its vapour. This equilibrium is illustrated via the vapour pressure of the liquid.  The vapour pressure is the pressure that the molecules at the surface of the liquid wield against the outer pressure that is generally the full of atmosphere pressure. The vapour pressure is an extremely sensitive function of temperature. It doesn't amplify linearly but in reality enhances exponentially by temperature. The vapour pressure of a material approximately doubles for every raise in 10°C (Figure).

Whenever the vapours pressure of the liquid equivalents the applied pressure, the liquid boils. Therefore, the boiling point of a liquid is the temperature at which the vapour pressure equals the applied pressure. The ordinary boiling point of a liquid is the temperature at which the vapour pressures of a liquid the same atmospheric pressure (1 atm). The boiling point of a liquid is a measure of its volatility.

1761_Vapour Pressure dependence.jpg

Fig: Vapour Pressure dependence on Temperature for Water

The successful application of distillation techniques based on some factors. Such contain the diversity in vapour pressure (related to the difference in the boiling points) of the components present, the size of the model, and the distillation apparatus. Distillation based on the actuality that the vapour above a liquid blend is richer more in the volatile component in the liquid; the composition being managed via Raoult's law.

Raoult's law state that in an ideal solution, the fractional pressure (PA) of component A at a subsequent temperature is equivalent to the vapor pressure of pure A multiplied via the mole fraction of A (XA) in solution.

Consider an idyllic solution of A and B:

1525_idyllic solution.jpg

NA and NB symbolize the number of moles of components A and B.

 and PT (entirety vapour pressure) = PA + PB

This connection, derived from Raoult's law, is capable of describing the boiling point behaviour of compound A in a mixture of compounds under a range of different conditions. The boiling point of the solution is accomplished when PT is alike to the pressure applied to the surface of the solution.

There are 2 major kinds of distillation to be considered:

Simple distillation: 

This is utilized frequently in the organic chemistry teaching laboratories, below Figure   

It is often believed whenever:

a. The liquid is comparatively pure to begin through (for example no more than 10% liquid contaminants) 

b. Essentially a pure material is divided from a non-volatile or from a solid contaminant 

c. The liquid is contaminated via a liquid through a boiling point that differs via at least 70°C. Simple distillation entails a single equilibration among the liquid and vapour. This distillation is termed to as involving 1 theoretical plate. 

Fractional distillation: 

The principle of fractional distillation is depending on the establishment of a huge number of theoretical vaporization-condensation cycles (theoretical plates): the apparatus of a simple distillation is modified via inserting a fractionating column between the sanitization flask and the distillation head, Figure. The fractionating column gives a huge outside area in that the primary distillate is redistilled and condensed once more. This procedure continues as the vapours increase up the column until the vapours at last build it into the condenser. Such vapours and the final distillate will have a greater percentage of the lower boiling liquid. Continuous recurrence of the re-distillation procedure in fractional distillation provides good division of the volatile liquid components.

A. simple distillation apparatus (Figure) is less efficient than a fractional distillation apparatus (Figure), but is utilized to purify materials containing only small amounts of impurities by much higher or lower boiling points.

735_Simple Distillation.jpg

Fig: The Set up Apparatus for Simple Distillation

2137_Fractional Distillation.jpg

Fig: The Set up Apparatus for Fractional Distillation

Not all mixtures of liquids obey Raoult's law, such mixtures; termed azeotropes, mimic the boiling behaviour of pure liquids. Such mixtures, whenever present at particular concentrations, generally distil at a steady boiling temperature and can't be divided via distillation.

Instances of such mixtures are 95% ethanol-5% water (boiling point 78.1°C).

To comprehend the nature of simple distillation, fractional distillation and azeotropes, we require looking at vapour/liquid diagrams for pairs of solvents. The graph below (Figure) illustrates such a graph for 2 solvents, A and B. A is the lower boiling material. The bottom of the graph illustrates the liquid condition and the top of the graph demonstrates the vapour state. The area in between the 2 curves demonstrates what is happening in the distillation column. If we begin through a mixture of A and B that corresponds to the dashed white line on the graph and the letter C1 (concentration 1), (The blend is vaporized (distilled) follow the horizontal blue line until it attains the vapour curve. This is concentration C2 in the diagram. This procedure has progressed the concentration of A, the lower boiling component. The material is then condensed. Follow the white vertical line along to the liquid curve.

1037_two solvents a or b.jpg

Fig: A Diagram for 2 Solvents, A and B

If this was simple distillation, we would stop now. It can be seen that the purification resulted through the simple distillation of such a mixture of volatile liquids is very imperfect. Though in fractional distillation, the distillation procedure continues. The condensed material is vaporized once more. Pursue the blue horizontal line across from the liquid curve at C2 to the vapour curve. There is an additional enhancement in the concentration of the lower boiling component A. The vapour is condensed once more. Follow the white vertical line down to the liquid curve.

This number of times which the procedure of vaporization and condensation take place based on the competence of the distillation column. The more proficient the distillation column, the additional times this occurs and the purer the last product will be. Through azeotropes, the vapour liquid curves aren't ideal and have a point where the vapour curve meets the liquid curve. This point is termed the azeotropes point.

2461_Diagram  for Two Solvents,.jpg

Fig:  A Diagram for Two Solvents, A and B (Fractional Distillation)

Working example

(1) Compute the mole fraction of each compound in a mixture 95.0g ethanol, CH3CH2OH and 5.0g water.



n(total) = nt = n(ethanol) + n(water)  =  2.07 + 0.28  =  2.35 mole

X  (mole  fraction of ethanol) =



X  (mole  fraction of  water) =


(2) Given the following mole fraction and vapour pressures for miscible liquids A and B, estimate the composition (in mole percentage) of the vapour from a distilling an ideal binary solution at 150oC and 760 mm Hg, for the solution.


XA = 0.40,      = 1710 mmHg

XB = 0.60,      = 127 mmHg

Ptotal  =  PA + PB  =  XA.PoA +  XB.PoB    =   (0.40 x 1710) + (0.60 x127) = 

760 mmHg

% A =    (0.40*1710)/760*100%    = 90%

% B =     (0.60*127)/760*100%     = 10%

In this experimentation, we will perform numerous distillations. We will compare distillations of a mixture of methanol and methylene dichloride using the glassware set-up for a simple distillation and one for fractional distillation. We will as well compute the boiling point-range for an unknown compound and utilize this information as an aid in its identification from Table of possible substances. Pairs of students will complete this experiment. Each pair will perform either the simple distillation process or the fractional distillation method. Consequences will be shared between 2 groups, so that everybody has data for both simple and fractional distillation. As well remember methanol and methylene dichloride are combustible. Not at all add boiling chips to hot liquid and never distil the flask to dryness. Several organic compounds form peroxide that explodes upon dryness and concentration. All glassware must be clamped in place.

1736_Boiling Points of Some Compounds.jpg

Table:  Boiling Points of various Compounds Substance Boiling Point (oC) Substance Boiling Point (oC)

Experiment - Distillation of a Mixture

Experimental procedures

Place 30 ml of an unknown liquid mixture (15 ml A + 15 ml B) that is to be purified through simple distillation and for that the boiling point range is to be determined.

Assemble the allocated distillation apparatus (simple or fractional). Transfer the unknown liquid to a 50 mL round bottom flask (this will be the distilling pot). Add one boiling stone, and continue to distil the liquid into a 10 mL graduated cylinder (this will be the receiver). Confirm the position of the thermometer (the bulb of the thermometer must be below the arm of the distillation head) and make sure that the bottom of the distilling pot is touching the heating surface of the heating mantel. Strongly join a part of condenser tubing to each condenser outlets. Securely attach the other end of the "water in" tubing to the water jet in the sink (or hood). Situate the other end of the "water out" tubing in the sink (or back of the hood). Connect the heating mantle and before heating our distillation apparatus or turning on the water for cooling the condenser, contain our laboratory instructor check our distillation apparatus.

After s/he has checked our apparatus, gradually turn on the water for condenser, and start heating. Regulate the heating mantle to sustain a distillation rate of one drop per second. As the lower boiling component is distilled, the boiling point of the mixture in the distillation flask will raise.

Record the temperature after the 1st drop is assembled and again after every 2 ml of distillate is collected. After the 10 ml of distillate has been collected, we will have to unfilled the graduated cylinder into a test tube as it fills. Cover and label the test tube 1st fraction (component A). Keep it.

Assemble the next 10 ml of distillate, record another time the temperature after every 1 ml of distillate. After the 2nd 10 ml of distillate has been collected, we will contain to vacant the graduated cylinder into a test tube as it seals and get rid of it in organic waste container.

Collection of last portion of distillate should carry on until the temperature hang about steady.  If the distillation flask is approaching dryness, eliminate the heat resource instantly and after cooling, move the distillate and any remaining liquid from the flask to the 3rd test tube (component B). Keep it.

Find out the boiling point range of the 1st fraction of the collected liquid and the 3rd portion of the collected liquid. Recognize the unknowns via their boiling points using the feasible boiling points of compounds. Construct a table as Table, to record the temperature at the distillation "head" as a function of volume distilled. We will record our data in report form. Plot distillate temperature (oC) vs. volume of distillate (ml) collected for the mixture through and with no the fractionating column and utilize a graph sheet to verify the boiling points of the 2 compounds in the mixture and recognize the compound in the mixture. Both sets of data will be plotted on the same graph, using different symbols (colors). Label the 2 curves.

Table: A Record of the Temperature at the Distillation "head" as a Function of Volume Distilled Volume distilled (mL). 

908_A Record of the Temperature at the Distillation.jpg

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