What is Matter? By: abi hooper

Your clothes are made up of matter. The computer you're on is made up of matter, too. You? Yep, you're made of matter as well. Matter is anything that has mass & takes up space! Matter can be a: solid, like a rock or paper; liquid, like water or soda; or gas, like the air we all breathe. Matter cannot be created nor destroyed.

Because the list of things that are made up of matter is SO large, it has been broken up into 2 categories of different types of matter- Pure Substance & Mixture- which are then broken up into even smaller categories. Pure Substance is broken down into either an element or compound. Mixture has been broken down to Homogeneous & Heterogeneous. Homogeneous is broken into Solutions, and Heterogeneous is broken into Suspensions and Colloids. All of that information was probably confusing, so here's a flowchart to help you understand.

This is the difference between Pure Substance and Mixture

Pure Substance

So lets talk about these, starting with pure substance. A pure substance has a definite and constant composition — like salt or sugar. A pure substance can be either an element or a compound, but the makeup of a pure substance doesn’t change.

Diamond is a Pure Substance.

An element is composed of a single kind of atom. An atom is the smallest particle of an element that still has all the properties of the element. Here’s an example: Gold is an element. If you slice and slice a chunk of gold until only one tiny particle is left that can’t be chopped any more without losing the properties that make gold gold, then you’ve got an atom

Oxygen is an Element

A compound is composed of two or more elements in a specific ratio. For example, water is a compound made up of two elements, hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O). These elements are combined in a very specific way — in a ratio of two hydrogen atoms to one oxygen atom, known as: H20.


Mixtures are physical combinations of pure substances that have no definite or constant composition. Mixtures can be physically separated in multiple different ways. For example, say you have a mixture of salt and sand, & you want to separate the two by removing the salt. You can do this by adding water, dissolving the salt, and then filtering the mixture. You then end up with pure sand.

Mixtures can either be Homogeneous or Heterogeneous

A homogeneous mixture, sometimes called a solution, is relatively uniform in composition; every portion of the mixture is like every other portion. For example, if you dissolve sugar in water and mix it really well, your mixture is basically the same no matter where you sample it.

The ocean is an example of a homogeneous mixture because the salt dissolves in the water, but can be removed.

A heterogeneous mixture is made up different substances that remain physically separate. It is a mixture whose makeup varies in different places within the sample. For example, if you mix french fries and Tony's, the Tony's doesn't dissolve, and the two substances can be separated easily.

Trail Mix is a good example of a heterogeneous mixture because the mixture is composed of different substances but they remain physically separate.

Heterogeneous mixtures are further broken down into Suspension & Colloids

A suspension is a heterogeneous mixture in which solute-like particles settle out of a solvent-like phase some time after their introduction. We use the word 'suspension' when particles are big enough to eventually settle. If the particles are too small to ever settle, they form a colloid. Muddy water would be an example of a suspension because the dirt particles will eventually settle at the bottom of the water.

You see how, over a period of time, the dirt particles eventually settle at the bottom of the mason jar.

The definition of a colloid is a combination of molecules mixed through other substances that will not settle out or join with the other substance.

Mayonnaise is a colloid because the different particles will never settle to the bottom.


Created with images by brianc - "Periodic Table" • Science Activism - "008 Oxygen - Periodic Table of Elements" • Pok_Rie - "wave water ocean" • Picdream - "trail mix nuts raisins" • JeepersMedia - "Hellmann''s Mayonnaise"

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