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Introduction to types of heterogeneous mixtures

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Suspensions and Colloids

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If you mix dirt in water, the water may become turbid. Is this a solution?

A suspension is a heterogeneous mixture in which some of the particles settle out of the mixture upon standing. The particles of a suspension are much larger than those of a solution. How does this relate to the dispersion medium? Can the dispersed particles be separated from the dispersion medium?

Which of the following are aqueous suspensions: milk, sweetened iced tea, water-based paint, mayonnaise

You can find more information on suspensions and check your answers here.


A colloid is a heterogeneous mixture whose particle size is between those of a solution and a suspension. The particles are spread evenly throughout the dispersion medium, which can be a solid, liquid, or gas. Do colloids separate on standing?

The dispersed particles of a colloid can't be separated by filtration, but they scatter light due to their size – a phenomenon called the Tyndall effect! You've probably seen this effect in action (as shown below) when light hits a fog, smoke, or a dusty section of air:

The Tyndall effect allows sunlight to be seen as it passes through a fine mist

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Another property of a colloidal system is the Brownian motion. What is the Brownian motion?

Which of the following are examples of colloids: mud, smoke, cheese, chocolate syrup in milk, marshmallows, sweetened iced tea, whipped cream

Emulsions are a particular class of colloids and are colloidal dispersions of a liquid in either a liquid or a solid. What needs to be present to create a stable emulsion? What acts as an emulsifying agent between grease and water?

To find more info on colloids and to check your answers, click here.

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