How does distillation work?

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marilynn07 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Distillation works by vaporizing various liquids off of other liquids which have a lower boiling point.

I will give you two examples

1. alcohol is distilled from water by steam distillation.

Water containing alcohol is placed in a container and is covered with a lid which has a coiled glass or metal tube attached to the top.

The boiling point of alcohol(78.32 C)is much lower than the boiling point of water (100 C), so the alcohol vapor will boil off from the water if the temperature of the vessel being used is kept below 100 C.  The alcohol is then collected using the coil into a separate closed container.

2. Gasoline, Kerosene, Deisel are all distilled from petroleum oil using basically the same process. Each esther has a different boiling point.

Please refer to the link for the exact boiling points of each of the benzene esthers.

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