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Introduction to types of heterogeneous mixtures

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Take a glass of water and throw in a handful of sand or dirt.  Stir it and stir it and stir it. The water may become turbid, or unclear.  Have you made a solution?  Sand and dirt do not dissolve in water and though it may look homogeneous for a few moments, the sand or dirt gradually sinks to the bottom of the glass.

A suspension is a mixture where some of the components settle out upon sitting

Credit: CK-12 Foundation - Joy Sheng
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

A suspension of dirt in water. [Figure1]

A suspension is a heterogeneous mixture in which some of the particles settle out of the mixture upon standing.  The particles in a suspension are far larger than those of a solution and thus gravity is able to pull them down out of the dispersion medium (water).  The typical diameter for the dispersed particles (the sand) of a suspension is about 1000 times greater than those of a solution (less than approximately two nanometers for particles in solution, compared to greater than 1000 nanometers for particles in suspension).  Unlike in a solution, the dispersed particles can be separated from the dispersion medium by filtering.  Suspensions are heterogeneous because at least two different substances in the mixture can be identified.


  • Suspensions are heterogeneous mixtures.
  • Some of the material in a suspension will settle out on standing.
  • Solid material in a suspension can be removed by filtration.

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  1. [1]^ Credit: CK-12 Foundation - Joy Sheng; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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