How do you identify a homogeneous and a heterogeneous mixture?

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ncchemist | eNotes Employee

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There are two basic types of mixtures, heterogeneous and homogeneous.  Looking at the root of each word will tell you which is which.  Hetero means different and homo means same.  These words are referring to the phase(s) of the mixture.  A homogeneous mixture will appear to the eye as a single phase or medium.  You will not be able to visually distinguish the different chemicals present in the mixture.  The dissolving of salt (NaCl) in water is a perfect example.  You cannot see the salt mixed in with the water.  They both appear as a single phase.

A heterogeneous mixture appears as multiple phases to the eye.  You can see the different individual chemicals mixed together.  Small pieces of iron dropped into a glass of water is a good example.  The iron does not dissolve in the water so it sits on the bottom of the glass and is easily visually distinguishable from the liquid water.

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