Difference Between Decantation And Filtration

Decantation and filtration are two distinct methods for separating mixtures of liquids. Decantation is pouring off the liquid from its solid material without disturbing it. Filtration separates a mixture of solid particles suspended in a liquid. This is done by passing the mixture through filter paper or another porous material that allows the liquid to pass through but not the solid particles.

Both decantation and filtration are practical methods used in science, medicine, industry, and agriculture. In some cases, a combination of both processes might be needed to separate mixtures effectively. Knowing the difference between decantation and filtration is essential for properly separating different mixtures.

What Is Decantation?

Decantation is a process of separating substances by pouring the liquid component of a mixture from the solid component. It separates two liquids that do not mix, such as oil and water. The heavier liquid will sink to the bottom while the lighter liquid will rise. This allows for easy liquid separation without using additional filtration materials.

What Is Filtration?

Filtration is separating particles from liquids by passing the liquid through a filter. It separates solids and liquids, such as suspended particulates, small pieces of debris, or even bacteria, from water. The filter material traps the particles while allowing the liquid to pass through. This process can be used to purify a liquid by removing unwanted particles, allowing for the removal of impurities.

Difference Between Decantation And Filtration

  • Definition: Decantation and filtration separate a mixture of liquids, solids, and gases. Decantation is pouring off one layer from another, while filtration uses filter media to strain out impurities.
  • Application: Decantation and filtration are commonly used techniques in the laboratory to separate mixtures. Decantation is best suited for separating a solid from a liquid, while filtration is best suited for separating a solid from a gas or liquid.
  • Barrier: In decantation, no barrier is used for the separation. While infiltration, a filter is used as a barrier for separation.
  • Accuracy: Decantation is less accurate. On the other hand, filtration is more accurate than decantation.
  • Phases: Decantation has two phases, while filtration has one phase.
  • Particles: The particles that can be separated using decantation are much larger than those separated using filtration. The latter method uses a barrier, such as filter paper, to remove particles from the liquid.
  • Time: The decantation process takes much less time than filtration as it involves no mechanical processes.
  • Viscosity: Decantation can be used with liquids of varying viscosity, whereas filtration is only feasible with lower-viscosity liquids.
  • Process: The process of decantation involves carefully pouring off the liquid from the top layer and leaving the solid or suspended particles at the bottom, whereas filtration requires passing a mixture through a filter to separate the solid material.
  • Results: Decantation yields a clear liquid that does not contain undissolved particles, whereas filtration yields both liquid and solid components.

Advantages Of Decantation

  • Decantation is a relatively simple and hassle-free procedure that requires minimal equipment. It is usually done by pouring the liquid from one container into another, allowing the heavier particles to settle down at the bottom;
  • The process does not require any special skills or knowledge, making it accessible to everyone;
  • Decantation is a fast and economical method of developing pure liquid solutions;
  • It is also an efficient way of separating two immiscible liquids with different densities, such as oil and water.

Disadvantages Of Decantation

  • Decantation is not suitable for the separation of particles with extremely small sizes;
  • It is not capable of separating compounds with properties that are very similar, such as two salts with almost identical densities.
  • Decantation also requires a large volume of liquid to be processed and may not be suitable if the available quantities are minimal.
  • If there is turbulence while decanting, smaller particles may be carried over with the liquid, thus resulting in an impure solution.

Advantages Of Filtration

  • Filtration is a highly efficient and reliable method for separating solids from liquids.
  • It can also separate two or more immiscible liquids, such as oil and water.
  • The process is fast and can quickly obtain large amounts of pure liquid.
  • Filtration requires very little equipment, making it an economical solution for many applications.

Disadvantages Of Filtration

  • Filtration may not be suitable for the separation of particles with extremely small sizes;
  • It can be difficult to obtain a 100% pure solution, as some particles may remain suspended in the liquid;
  • The process also requires careful monitoring and maintenance of filters during operation;
  • Filtration is not always feasible if large volumes of liquids must be handled.


What is a maser barrier filter?

A maser barrier filter is a type of filtration that uses a membrane with microscopic pores to separate particles from a mixture based on their size.

What is distilled water?

Distilled water is water that has been purified by a process called distillation. This process involves boiling the water into steam, which is then condensed into liquid form. The result is pure, sterile H2O free from any contaminants or impurities.

Why is filtration considered better than decantation?

Filtration is considered to be the superior method between decantation and filtration. With filtration, solid particles can be removed from a liquid or solution by forcing the mixture through a filter medium which retains the solid and allows the liquid to pass through.

What is gravity filtration used for?

Gravity filtration separates solids from liquids or two different types of liquids. It relies on the principle that denser substances settle faster than lighter ones when left undisturbed. The process involves pouring a sample into a filter funnel, leaving it still, and letting sediment collect at the bottom. This can be achieved in two ways: by allowing solids to settle or by using filter paper.


Difference Between Decantation And Filtration - infographic
Difference Between Decantation And Filtration – infographic

Both decantation and filtration are excellent methods for separating liquid solutions. However, the suitability of either method will depend on the type of compounds being separated and the available resources. Decantation is simple and cost-effective but can only be used to separate solutions with low levels of suspended particles. Filtration, conversely, is a more efficient method for separating mixtures with high concentrations of solids. Ultimately, both methods effectively achieve the desired separation results in different circumstances.

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