Separation of Components in a Heterogeneous Mixture: Lab Report

Categories: Chemistry


The purpose of the experiment was to separate an initial heterogeneous mixture composed of 5.00 grams of salt, 2.00 grams of sand, 50.0 mL of water, 15.00 grams of pebbles, and 1.00 gram of iron filings, and leave as much salt as possible remaining. Using separation techniques including magnetizing, evaporation, filtration, etc. the heterogeneous mixture was thoroughly separated into 4.88 grams of salt. There have been some errors regarding the isolation techniques and processes, however, the mass of salt at the end is substantial enough to conclude that results obtained are sufficient compared to the initial mass.

Introduction and Background

The point of this experiment was to separate the different components present in a heterogeneous mixture. In doing so, four goals/checkpoints were expected to be met including learning how to use the lab materials, applying knowledge of different separation techniques, applying the scientific method to a problem, and applying the knowledge of lab safety rules and regulations. The expectations were to take the heterogeneous mixture of sand, salt, pebbles, iron filings, and water and use separation techniques to isolate the salt and iron filings (the water wasn’t needed at the end, and the pebbles and the sand were not separated from each other under the teacher’s express permission).

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Methods of isolation utilized include magnetism, filtration, and evaporation.

  • Magnetism: a useful isolation technique in this experiment, a magnet was used to separate the iron filings from the initial heterogeneous solution
  • Filtration: the isolation technique which is accomplished by filter paper and a funnel. The filter paper is folded twice ramen noodle style and inserted into the funnel.

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    From there, the heterogeneous mixture may poured into the filter to isolate the sand and pebbles from the mixture

  • Evaporation: the isolation technique which is accomplished by a hotplate or a surface. The salt water in the beaker or whatever source.

Safety Rules

This lab requires the use of goggles because there is potential of accidental debris (e.g. sand, salt, iron filings, pebbles) entering the eyes. Furthermore, the people performing this lab must take caution when handling the hot plates because it is a tremendous source of heat that has the capability of afflicting severe burns when touched. For this lab, the temperature for the hot plates goes up to 372 degrees Fahrenheit.


Lab Equipment Used:

  • 1 100 mL beaker
  • 1 triple beam balance
  • 3 weighing boats
  • 1 magnet
  • 1 stirring rod
  • 1 ring stand
  • 1 scoopula
  • 1 filter paper
  • 1 funnel
  • 1 hotplate

Materials in Heterogeneous Mixture:

  • 1.97 grams of sand
  • 1.02 grams of iron filings
  • 14.67 grams of pebbles
  • 50.00 mL of water
  • 5.00 grams of salt

Experimental Procedure

Part One: Creation of the Heterogeneous Mixture

The components required for the mixture were measured out. In terms of the measurements, 1.97 grams of sand, 1.02 grams of iron filings, 14.67 grams of pebbles, 50.00 mL of water, and 5.00 grams of salt were measured out. A triple beam balance, weighing boats, and a scoopula were used for this portion of measurement, the balance and the weighing boat for measuring purposes, and the scoopula for accurate measurements. A 100 mL beaker was used to hold the mixture. First, the pebbles were inserted. Then, the sand, then the iron filings, salt, and water. Using a stirring rod, the heterogeneous mixture was thoroughly blended together.

Part Two: Application of Isolation Techniques

The first component isolated was the iron filings using the magnet. One side of the magnet was stuck into the heterogeneous mixture, and all the iron filings on that side were taken off. Promptly afterwards, the other side was stuck in and effectively removed any iron filing that may not have been collected in the first pass.

Afterwards, the salt water was separated by using filter paper and a funnel. A ring stand was set up and on the ring, the funnel was placed. The filter paper was folded twice in half and was inserted into the funnel, making a coffee style filter. The heterogeneous mixture was poured into the filter and the salt water was poured in droplets into an Erlenmeyer flask. This succeeded in isolating the pebbles and sand from the salt water. The pebbles and sand were discarded, and the salt water was left.

The last remaining step was to isolate the salt from the water. Applying the evaporation technique required the use of a hotplate in which the Erlenmeyer flask with salt water was placed on top. The temperature on the hotplate was set at 372 degrees Fahrenheit.

Data and Calculations

Component Initial Mass (g) Final Mass (g) Percent Recovery
Sand 1.97 0.00 0.00%
Iron Filings 1.02 0.05 4.90%
Pebbles 14.67 0.00 0.00%
Water 50.00 0.00 0.00%
Salt 5.00 4.88 97.60%


During the experiment, several observations were made:

  • After the evaporation of saltwater, the salt appeared as a powdery substance.
  • The iron filings were effectively separated using a magnet, but there were still some residuals in the salt.
  • There were sand grains present within the salt, indicating some issues with the filtration technique.

The final mass of salt obtained was 4.88 grams, with a percent recovery of 97.60%.

Discussion and Conclusion

The objective of isolating the heterogeneous mixture and end up with as much salt as possible was sufficiently met. The use of lab equipment, application of separation techniques, and the safety rules and regulations were learned. The overall experiment was successful to a certain degree in which all components of the objectives were learned. However, the initial salt concentration differs from the final salt concentration in that there is a .12 gram difference between them. Expected results were at the least of 4.95 grams at the end. The group was precise in terms of measurements and carrying out the isolation techniques, however, there may have been error in the processes themselves.

First, there was the issue of the iron filings. There were some residuals of iron filings present in the salt at the end, and that was due to the lack of care in collecting all the iron components. This could be fixed by using the magnets after every step of the way, collecting the bits of iron left after each step. Furthermore, there was also some sand grains present within the salt at the end of the lab. That is an obvious flaw within the filtration techniques of the pebbles and sand from the overall heterogeneous solution. That can easily be fixed by careful moderation of the sand grains. If the mixture was poured too rapidly or in great amounts, the sand could have potentially got in between the layers filter paper and the funnel itself. Overall, as seen in the comparison between the initial mass of salt and the end, there was only a .12 gram deviation resulting from careless/improper moderation of isolation techniques, but they could be easily fixed with a careful eye and additional steps to ensure complete isolation of components.

Updated: Dec 29, 2023
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Separation of Components in a Heterogeneous Mixture: Lab Report. (2016, May 08). Retrieved from

Separation of Components in a Heterogeneous Mixture: Lab Report essay
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