Separating Different and Unusual Materials Andrew Strudwick Chloe Tomkins
Back to LFCDS Science 8 Wiki
Back to Separation Experiment Home

Original Procedure
Altered Procedure
Preliminary Observations
Results and Data
Analysis of the experiment
Day 1: Step one through six was completed. Also, step 7 was set up and other steps later to come were set up with uncertainty. There was a lot of changes made to the original procedure from today. The changes are listed below in the Altered Procedure section.
Day 2: Step seven through twelve was completed today. It was noticed that the water would not evaporate in the time given so the water and sand were separated as best as possible. Any changes are listed below in the Altered Procedure section.

  • Very strong magnet, Pull force of about 2 lbs
  • 2000mL beaker
  • 2000mL of water
  • 250mL beaker
  • 40mL beaker
  • 6in. metal tweezers
  • Cotton pieces
  • Hot Plate
  • 1 and ½ Quart Steel saucepan
  • Pasta Bowl
Back to Top

Original Procedure:
  1. Measure all objects
  2. Pour contents of bag into pasta bowl.
  3. Hold magnet above contents to separate Iron shavings and aluminum from the other contents.
  4. Pour remaining contents (salt, sand, and wood shavings) into 1000mL of water in the 2000mL beaker.
  5. Use 6in. tweezers to remove wood shavings.
  6. Place remaining contents in 1 and ½ Quart steel saucepan.
  7. Place saucepan with contents on hotplate with heat on high.
  8. Wait until salt dissolves.
  9. Pour contents through 1’ by 1’ piece of cotton into 2000mL beaker.
  10. Remove sand from cotton.
  11. Put contents of 2000mL beaker into the 1 and ½ Quart steel saucepan.
  12. Place saucepan and contents on hotplate.
  13. Wait for Water to evaporate.
  14. Measure all objects.
Back to Top

Altered Procedure (actually used):
  1. Measure all objects.
  2. Pour contents of bag into pasta bowl.
  3. Cover magnet with plastic Zip-Lock bag.
  4. Hold magnet with bag above contents to separate Iron shavings from the other contents.
  5. Pick out any wood found in the iron.
  6. Separate aluminum from other contents using hands.
  7. Separate most wood with hands.
  8. Pour remaining contents (salt, sand and some wood) into water.
  9. Pick wood out (wood now floating).
  10. Pour off water to get sand.
  11. Wait for sand to dry.
  12. Measure all objects and find difference from original values.
Back to Top

Preliminary Observations:
  • The Cotton was not a 1' by 1' piece, instead it was cotton wool balls. This led to many problems from the original procedure.
  • Aluminum was not magnetic. This led the procedure different ways so the aluminum was picked out using hands.
  • Iron shavings stuck to magnet and it was not easy to get off. Plastic bag was used to seperate the iron and the magnet.
  • Iron was left on hands and in the original Zip-Lock bag.
  • Wood was difficuilt to seperate from Iron.
  • Used cotton balls to transfer saltwater from the saucepan to the beaker.
  • The tweezers were magnetic so could not be used to pick out wood.
  • Saltwater was left on the table.
  • Some saltwater was spilled.
Back to Top

Results and Data:
Difference (g)
Wood Shavings
Iron Filings
+/- 0
Back to Top

Analysis of the experiment:

Salt: The final value of salt included a small amount of sand. Also some salt was misplaced because when the salt was put in water it dissolved and crystalized on some of the other materials. This salt was in a mixture with other things including sand and wood shavings. The salt dissolved into the water and was therefore also on the wood and sand. Human error became a factor to the salt as well because when any saltwater was spilled it lost about 3g of salt.

Wood Shavings: The wood was seperated by being picked out by hand. This seemed to work except for that the final value was 1g more than the original value. The extra gram was salt that was picked up while the wood was in the saltwater. Also salt that had crystalized on the wood made it heavier. The original procedure was to sift it from the water, but was not possible, so wood was seperated by hand from the original mixture, and from the saltwater.

Aluminum: The aluminum was the easiest to separate, but the the original procedure was to seperate it with a magnet. It turned out that aluminum is not magnetic and had to be picked out by hand. The separation was then to be done with tweezers, which were magnetic. This magnetism attracted the iron filings. the aluminum and iron filings were separated as best as possible, but some iron stayed in with the aluminum.

Iron Filings: Although there was no difference in the msss for this seperation it was very annoying. Since the Iron was magnetic and the magnet could not be turned off, the Iron would not come off of the magnet. Because of this, the original plastic Zip-Lock bag was used to separate the iron and the magnet. The magnet was placed inside the bag to seperate the iron from the mixture and the magnet was then taken out of the bag to seperate the magnet and the iron. The bag was not in the materials list, but was a material at hand so it was used. There was a small amount of wood in the iron, but not more than 1g. Some iron was left in the bowel, on hands and on the table. This canceled out the wood in the iron because what was lost for mass in iron, was gained in wood.

Sand: The sand had a difference of +1g. There was salt in the sand that hadn't disolved and there was salt on the edge of the beaker. The sand stuck to containers very easily when it got wet which made a problem, but most sand was separated very well. It was the only material that was separated the way the procedure said.
Back to Top


Problems: Aluminum was not magnetic, iron stuck to magnet easily, iron molded to hand and molded to bag, sand was wet with salt, salt skewed almost all data and was spread everywhere, wood was wet and absorbed saltwater, cotton was not a 1in by 1in piece, tweezers were magnetic and water wouldn't evaporate fast enough so salt was not recovered to it's original form.

Salt: If salt was not dissolved into any water it would not have been spread out and dissolved into the other materials. No water should have been used. The sand is naturally thicker than the salt, this means if a sifter with the exact measurement to let salt through but not sand would have separated the two and the evaporation process would not have been needed. This would also make other differences much smaller.

Wood Shavings: The wood needed to be separated by tweezers that were not magnetic, so that no iron would get with the wood shavings. This would have worked better than fingers or definitely the magnetic tweezers. Overall though the wood turned out quite well.

Aluminum: Since the aluminum was not magnetic the whole procedure had to be changed to separate it. If un-magnetized tweezers were used, just like the for the wood, all the aluminum could have been separated perfectly with no iron or sand.

Iron Filings: The only thing that should have been changed to the separation was to separate the magnet and the iron, it was lucky the bag was given, but if something was planned in the procedure to separate the magnet and iron it would have been better.

Sand: The sand needed to be separated without water, because the salt dissolved into the sand which made the difference increasing by 1g. Overall though, the sand was separated well and didnt need major changes from the procedure.
Back to Top

Preliminary Observations
Results and Data
Analysis of the experiment