Difference Between Whatman Filter Paper And Normal Filter Paper

Last Updated on September 8, 2023 by Nigel Pearson

Whatman filter paper is a laboratory filter used in scientific experiments and procedures. It is highly absorbent, can separate particles from liquids, and is strong enough to withstand high temperatures. It has a more uniform porosity than normal filter papers, meaning its pores are more evenly spaced throughout the material. This allows for better filtration of particles, which can be as small as 0.2 micrometers. Additionally, Whatman filter paper has a higher resistance to acids and alkalis than normal filter papers, making it better suited for specific chemicals.

What Is Whatman Filter Paper?

What Is Whatman Filter Paper
Whatman Filter Paper

Whatman Filter Paper is a specialized filter paper manufactured by Whatman. It has been in production since 1740, making it one of the market’s oldest and most reliable filter papers. This paper is used for filtration and separations in laboratories, medical clinics, and other research environments. It is composed of a cellulose-based material, giving it an incredibly fine texture that makes it ideal for scientific applications.

Whatman Filter Paper is designed to be much more durable than standard filter paper and comes in various grades based on the pores’ size and the paper’s thickness. Its high strength and purity allow researchers to collect precise, accurate results when conducting experiments or to perform filtration. Whatman Filter Paper is also used for general laboratory applications such as chromatography and sample preparation.

What Is Normal Filter Paper?

What Is Normal Filter Paper
A Brief Introduction Of Filter Paper

Normal filter paper is paper made from cotton fibers and treated with various sizes of pores that allow for the passage of liquids. It is generally produced in different grades and can range from very thin to thick, depending on the application. The advantage of using normal filter paper is that it can be used in various applications without worrying about particles or residue clogging the pores.

What Is The Difference Between Whatman Filter Paper And Normal Filter Paper?

  • Ash content: Whatman filter paper has a higher ash content than regular filter paper. This is due to the manufacturing process of Whatman filter paper, which involves burning off organic materials from the cellulose fibers. As a result, Whatman filter paper may contain up to 5% inorganic residue.
  • Durability: Due to its higher ash content, Whatman filter paper is more durable than regular filter paper. It also has better resistance to wet strengthening, which means it can withstand higher temperatures and pressures without breaking down. In addition, Whatman filter paper has a longer shelf life than regular filter paper because it is less prone to wear and tear.
  • Porosity: Whatman filter paper has more pores than regular filter paper. This means it is more efficient at filtering out impurities from liquids and gases, making it ideal for laboratory applications. The more significant porosity also makes Whatman filter paper more resistant to clogging, meaning it can be used for extended periods without needing to be replaced. The larger pore size also means that Whatman filter paper has a higher flow rate than regular filter paper, making it well-suited for applications where speed of filtration is essential.
  • Cost: While Whatman filter paper is more expensive than regular filter paper due to its superior features, it can be cost-effective in the long run as it is more durable and efficient.
  • Purpose: Whatman filter paper is a particular filter paper commonly used in laboratories. It is thicker and more tightly woven than regular filter paper, making it highly absorbent and resistant to tearing or ripping. This makes it ideal for laboratory applications such as filtration, chromatography and clarifying liquids. Additionally, its high-quality construction makes it suitable for other purposes, such as sample preparation and particle analysis. The Whatman brand is also notable for its consistency in thickness, uniformity of construction, and resistance to high temperatures compared to regular filter paper.
  • Formation: Whatman filter paper is produced with a unique creped formation that gives it additional strength and excellent retention. On the other hand, regular filter paper is made using either sheet or disc formation.

How To Select Filter Paper Correctly?

  • Binder content: Filter paper that is manufactured for qualitative analysis typically contains a binder, either cellulose acetate or, in some cases, gum arabic. Cellulose acetate binder makes the filter paper more robust and more durable than papers without. This type of filter paper is often referred to as Whatman Filter Paper, after the company that first manufactured this type of product.
  • Fiber diameter: Whatman filter paper has a much finer fiber diameter than regular filter paper – 90 μm compared to 150 μm. This is why it is essential for many scientific and laboratory applications, as it can capture much smaller particles that would otherwise pass through regular filter paper.
  • Larger effective area: Whatman filter paper offers a much larger effective filtering area than regular. This makes it more suitable for use in applications such as the filtration of large volumes of liquid and other materials.
  • More robust pore structure: The pores in the Whatman filter paper are usually smaller than those in regular filter paper, resulting in a more robust filtration performance. This makes it more suitable for removing solids and other particulates from liquids.

What Are The Main Uses Of Filter Papers?

Filter papers are used for various purposes, including filtration, chromatography, and sample preparation. Filtration is the process by which solid particles suspended in a fluid are removed from the fluid. This can be done through physical or chemical means. Chromatography separates mixtures into their components by using different adsorbing properties of the components. It is used in the identification and analysis of components. Sample preparation involves using filter paper to separate components from a sample solution or mixture before analysis.

Whatman filter papers are made from specially selected pulp, which gives them superior mechanical strength, chemical durability, and particle retention capability compared to standard filter papers. This makes them ideal for critical applications such as chromatography, which require precise and consistent filtration performance.


What is the purpose of filter paper in TLC?

What is the purpose of filter paper in TLC
Thin layer chromatography

Filter paper is used in Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) to provide a uniform stationary phase layer and absorb excess liquid. The filter paper also serves as a supporting medium for the sample spots on the thin layer plate.

Why is filter paper used in chromatography?

Filter paper is used in chromatography because it absorbs liquid and separates substances from the liquid solution.

Why do we use the Whatman filter paper 41?

Whatman filter paper 41 is a qualitative filter paper widely used in laboratory settings. It stands out from ordinary filter papers due to its high purity, precision, and dependability. It is composed of pure cellulose fibers with no additives or binders, making it ideal for techniques requiring high levels of accuracy in separating and purifying particles and compounds.

Why is the Whatman filter paper ashless?

Whatman filter paper is ashless because it is made from high-grade cellulose, a pure form of plant fiber. This type of material removes any potential toxins and other impurities that could be present in regular filter paper.

Why does my filter paper gets clogged very quickly?

The type of filter paper you are using may cause clogging. Regular filter paper is generally made of cotton or cellulose fibers and has a low-density weave, which holds back larger particles but doesn’t block everything. This can lead to quicker clogs because finer particles can pass through more easily.

Can we use ordinary paper instead of filter paper for filtration?

No, the normal paper would not be suitable for filtration because it has a much lower porosity than filter paper and would only allow tiny particles to pass through, making the results of an experiment inaccurate.


Whatman and regular filter paper have different characteristics that make them suitable for different applications. Whatman filter paper is more durable and capable of withstanding high temperatures, making it ideal for sterile filtration processes. Regular filter paper is less expensive and can be used for general laboratory tasks such as liquid-solid separations. Ultimately, the choice of filter paper should be based on the specific application’s requirements.

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