Separation via Distillation

Separation via Distillation

  • Distillation is an essential process used to separate mixtures, and it involves boiling the mixture and then condensing the vapour.

  • Simple distillation is used when we need to separate a liquid from a solution. For instance, pure water can be obtained from seawater.

  • Fractional distillation is used for separating a mixture of liquids with different boiling points. It’s commonly used in crude oil refining.

  • Remember, each substance in a mixture will boil at a different temperature, hence, the substance that boils off first will be collected, condensed, and separated.

  • When distilling water, any substances that have boiling points lower than water will distil off first, followed by the water. Anything left with a higher boiling point than water will remain in the solution.

  • The water ‘caught’ during distillation is often very pure; this can be useful if the ‘impurities’ in the water are harmful or unwanted.

  • Condensation, the process of converting water vapour back into liquid water, happens in the condenser section of a distillation setup. Cold water is typically run around the outside of the condenser to encourage the vapour to return to a liquid state.

  • Distillation is not perfect. Some substances may ‘carry over’ with the water into the distilled water. Coming up with ways to minimise this carry over is an ongoing area of study.

  • Safety is crucial during distillation, as the method involves heating substances to high temperatures.