Classifying the Stuff I Use

At this point we should understand how all matter can be classified as pure substances or mixtures. The mixtures can be further classified as homogeneous and heterogeneous mixtures. Pure substances can be further classified as compounds and elements. Therefore, everything that we use is one of these: a homogeneous mixture, a heterogeneous mixture, a compound or an element.

Write a narrative about the things that you use on a regular basis and classify them according to the system that we’ve looked at in this Module. For each example identify the “thing” you are classifying and why you have categorized it as you have. If it is a mixture, state it’s components as well as why you consider it homogeneous or heterogeneous. If it is pure, state whether it is a element or a compound and what lead you to classify it as you did. Choose and example for each of the four basic classifications, therefore both types of mixtures a compound and an element.

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My narrative:

The classification of common items seems as though it should be straight forward, however it also seems as though unless one is extremely specific, mixtures are the predominant type of matter. So, that’s where I’ll start.

My favorite morning beverage is a delicious cocktail of things. No, not one of those cocktails… Not in the morning. I’m talking about coffee! Coffee, as I like it anyway, is a homogeneous mixture of water and caffeine. There are soooo many other things in coffee as well, they just get no love. Most common are the tannins that make coffee brown. Sometimes these compounds are antioxidants which can be beneficial to our bodies. I know it is a homogeneous mixture because it seems to be all liquid and it is made by passing it through a coffee filter. That is, unless my girlfriend makes the coffee. Then many times I find the coffee grounds in the bottom of my cup. 🙁

As I look around my home gym/office wondering what I can use as an example of a heterogeneous mixture, I realize this is a tough one. Of course the coffee with coffee grounds from the previous example is heterogeneous but that is too easy… My gym matt, however is a heterogeneous mixturebecause it is most likely a combination of different types of rubber. It looks that way, at least. It’s black chunks pressed together and some of the pieces are blue rather than black, which leads me to believe it is something different, or again, maybe just a different type of rubber. Regardless, it looks heterogeneous.

Pure substances are a little bit more difficult but many are around to be found even in your house. I wonder to myself what do I insist that I use that needs to be pure. Food! I want my foods to be pure but usually food exists as mixtures as well. An example is baking soda. Baking soda is actually a compound! It has the chemical formula NaHCO3 and is called sodium bicarbonate. In the chemistry lab it is used as a base to neutralize acid spills and can be found in many antacids.

Finally, I need to identify an element that I commonly use. Now, this is a tough one… Is gold jewelry an element? We call it gold but it is usually a mixture of gold, silver and copper depending on the type. Is a nickel made out of nickel? Na, it’s mostly copper… So, I have to peruse the periodic table to find an element that I use and I found one. It is a magnesium fire starter used in emergency situations or for camping. When the magnesium is shaved into a powder and a spark is introduced it burns really hot and is helpful in starting a fire. Not easy to use though. So, the magnesium is an element. If you consider the entire starter, I guess it would be a heterogeneous mixture, but I’ll stop there.

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