Properties of Matter, Elements and Separation Techniques

Before we begin, we must first understand what Matter is and what elements are

In a very basic definition, matter is anything that has weight and occupies space. Elements on the other hand, are chemically unique substances that cannot be further broken down into simpler compounds by any known chemical means. Elements consists of atoms which have the same number of protons in their nuclei. Elements are pure substances.

STATES OF MATTER: Matter can exist in three states, Solid, Liquid and Gas




Properties of matter are characteristics that can be used to identify a substance. Matter is classified into two properties.


A physical change is defined as a change that is temporary and simply reversible within which no new substance is created.

– Changes in the state of matter such as melting of solids to liquids, freezing of liquids to solids, sublimation of solids to vapor etc.

Magnetization and Demagnetization of iron rods.


A Chemical change is a change that is not easily reversed and it does not form a new substance.
– Rusting of iron
– Fermentation and decay of substances etc.


An element is defined as a substance which cannot be split into simpler units by an ordinary process. 
There are 109 known elements, ninety of them occur naturally, the rest are made artificially in the laboratory

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physical and chemical change


Elements are classified into three which are Metals, Non-metals and Metalloids.

– Metals:

Metals are those elements which ionize by election loss. example. Calcium, magnesium, iron.


Non-metals are elements which ionize by electron gain. example. Chlorine, Oxygen, Nitrogen etc.


1) Metals are malleable, ductile or sonorous.
While Non-metals are not malleable, not ductile or not sonorous.

2)Metals have great tensile strength.
While Non-metals are brittle or soft.

3) Metals are lustrous.
While Non-metals are non – lustrous.

4)Metals are good conductors of electricity.
While Non-metals are non – conductors or poor conductors of electricity.

5)Metals have high boiling and melting point.
While All Non-metals except carbon have low melting and boiling point.


1) Metals are reducing agents. While Non-metals are oxidizing agents.

2)Metals form basic oxides with oxygen.
While Non-metals form acidic oxides with oxygen.

3)Metals generally tend to form ionic compounds.

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While Non-metals generally tend to form covalent compounds.


A compound is defined as a substance which contains two or more elements chemically combined together.
A compound is formed from chemical changes. Fir instance, water is a compound formed as a result of chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen.


A mixture is a substance that contains two or more constituents which can be easily separated by physical methods.


1)Mixtures may be homogeneous or heterogeneous.
While compounds are always homogeneous.

2)The constituents of a mixture are not chemically bound together, therefore, it can be easily separated.
While the components of a compound are chemically bound together and cannot be separated through physical means.

3)The properties of a mixture are the sum of it’s individual constituents.
While the properties of a compound differ entirely from it’s component elements.


The techniques used in separating mixtures are called separation techniques.

1)Sieving: Using a sieve to separate solids of different sizes.

2)Magnetic Separation: Using a magnet to separate magnetic solids from non – magnetic ones.

3)Sublimation: Separation of solids which sublime from other solids.

4)Distillation: Distillation separates solvents from it’s solution.

5)Fractional Distillation:
Fractional Distillation separates miscible liquids.

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6)Use of separating funnel: To separate miscible liquids.

7) Chromatography:
Chromatography is used to separate mixture of solutes using a solvent moving over a porous, adsorbent medium.

8) Decantation: A mixture containing a liquid and solid particles separate into two distinct layers on standing: a lower solid layer and an upper clear liquid layer.

9) Filtration: A porous like filter paper is used to separate insoluble particles from liquids.

10) Centrifugation: A centrifuge machine which spins test – tubes containing suspensions at high speed is used for Centrifugation. The spinning makes the heavier solid particles in the suspension to be thrown to the bottom of the test – tube.

11)Evaporation: Evaporation is used to recover a solid solute from a solution .

12) Crystallization: Crystallization separates salts which decompose easily on heating, from their solutions.

13) Fractional Crystallization:
Fractional Crystallization separates two or more solid solutes which are present in the same solution in roughly equal amounts.

14) Precipitation: A difference in the solubility of a solid in two miscible liquids is used to precipitate the solid when it dissolves in one of them.

Now you have a brief understanding about Matter and different separation techniques.