Heterogeneous Mixture Properties and Examples

heterogeneous mixtureA heterogeneous mixture is a mixture that composes of components that aren’t uniform or they have localized regions that all have different properties. Despite the term appearing to be highly scientific, there are various common substances that are heterogeneous mixtures. In fact, you’ve probably seen heterogeneous mixtures in your daily life without even realizing it. These mixtures are common and the idea behind them can be simple to understand. If you want a more extensive overview of heterogeneous mixtures and other similar concepts in chemistry, then you should check out the Udemy courses Chemistry 101 – Part 1 and Chemistry 101 Part 2. The first course teaches you about the principles of chemistry and the second goes into further detail by teaching you about the chemistry behind elements.

The concept of heterogeneous mixtures is a basic part of chemistry. Whether you are simply interested in chemistry or you are preparing for a major examination in the subject, such as the Chemistry Regents Exams, which you can prepare for on Udemy, this is something that you will need to know about in detail.

The Properties of a Heterogeneous Mixture 

If you’re unsure how to define a heterogeneous mixture, you can begin by exploration some of their most basic properties.

For example, as stated before, in a heterogeneous mixture the substances are not in any sort of fixed ratio. If you were to have a bottle of large bucket of water, and then you were to add sand to it, the mixture would simply be a mixture of both sand and water. At no point, no matter how much sand or water you add to the mixture, does the mixture itself change.

Another property is that the substances in the mixture maintain their own individual properties. Looking at the sand and water example again, when you mix the two together the sand still remains sand, and the water still remains water. The properties of the two substances never change. The same thing can be said for something else, such as soup. If you were to make a soup and have various ingredients in it, then the different ingredients would remain the same despite being mixed into the soup.

The final property of a heterogeneous mixture is the ability to separate the substances through a physical means. Separating something physically simply means that you can remove the two substances without changing them on the chemical level. For the process of removing sand from the water, you can easily just filter the water out and leave a bucket full of sand. For the water that the sand has absorbed, you can let that water evaporate and you will eventually get pure sand and water again. The same thing can be said about the soup. You can separate the components of the soup after it has been mixed. 

Examples of Heterogeneous Mixtures

You’ve probably encountered more forms of heterogeneous mixtures than you’ve realized. For example, outside if you were to take a handful of dirt from the ground, you would find that there are various types of plants, soil, and other substances spread unevenly throughout the soil. This makes that soil a heterogeneous mixture.

On a more delicious note, different types of foods are great examples of heterogeneous mixtures. A bowl of Fruit Loops consists of various types of colorful cereal in a mixture. The same thing can be said with pizza. When you eat a pizza, the toppings aren’t evenly distributed throughout the pizza, neither is the cheese or sauce, which means that it too is a heterogeneous mixture.

The same thing can be applied to a bowl of candy or mixed nuts. The mixture is heterogeneous because the substances are different. Every different colored Skittle or M&M that you find in the bowl is a part of the mixture and it makes it heterogeneous. Of course, food provides only way you can look at the different types of heterogeneous mixtures out there. There are mixtures that take up large parts of the Earth.

If you’ve been to the beach, then you’ve literally seen two very large examples of a heterogeneous mixture. The sand beneath your feet is a heterogeneous mixture since it has various rocks, and even animals, that very in shape size and composition. The same thing can be said about the ocean, which is one of the largest heterogeneous mixtures out there. The ocean has a very uneven distribution of animals, plants, and other components that make it heterogeneous.

These are just a few examples of mixtures that you can find in your everyday life. This should give you a great understanding of the term heterogeneous mixture.

The Different Types of Heterogeneous Mixtures

You’ve seen examples of different heterogeneous mixtures, which mean that you can now start to learn about the way that these mixtures are classified. Heterogeneous mixtures are classified based on the phase of matter that they are in. There are three phases of matter – solid, liquid, and gas – and all heterogeneous mixtures involve some combination of one or two of these phases.

For example, two liquids that are mixed together is not the same as a solid and liquid being mixed or even a gas and a solid being mixed. All of these mixtures are given a special name to represent their type.

  • Emulsion is a heterogeneous mixture that involves the combining of two liquids. A good example of this is oil and water.
  • When a solid and liquid are mixed together, it’s called suspension. A great example of suspension is the solid earth and the liquid water, which creates muddy water.
  • A gas and solid mixture is called aerosol, which can be the most apparent in fizzy drinks. Yes, even soda is considered a type of heterogeneous mixture.
  • The final mixture is a gas and a solid. The name for this mixture is commonly called smoke. An example of smoke is smog.

By dividing the different forms of heterogeneous mixtures in such a way, it is possible to identify the substances that make up these mixtures.

The Importance of Mixtures

Heterogeneous mixtures are one of the most specific classifications of matter. The way that matter is classified is first either as a substance, which is pure or a mixture, which as you understand now is the combination of various substances. Those substances can be broken down into either elements or chemical compounds and those elements can be broken down into metals, non-metals, metalloids and noble gases. All of which have the potential to be broken down into various mixtures, whether they are the heterogeneous mixtures you’ve just read about or the other varieties, which are homogeneous mixtures and colloids

It’s important to get a firm grasp of heterogeneous mixtures, since they can become a large component of understanding both matter and chemistry.

Delving Deeper into Chemistry

Heterogeneous mixtures are just one simple concept in chemistry, but there are many more. You must also be able to understand the concept behind heterogeneous mixtures and other forms of matter. Chemistry is a subject that requires a great deal of exploration, and you should try to delve deep into it if you want the most out of your studies.

Check out the Udemy course 15 Concepts to Know for the Chemistry Regents. This course breaks down some of the most important concepts you will need to master in chemistry – not just for the exam, but for your future endeavors in science as well.