can be defined as particles of a substance which are finely divided
and mixed in a supporting substance (liquid, gel, gas, etc.).
Technically, Merriam Webster's Medical Dictionary defines a Colloid
as "a substance that consists of particles dispersed throughout
another substance which are too small for resolution with an
ordinary light microscope but are incapable of passing through
a semipermeable membrane or as a mixture (as smoke) consisting
of a Colloid together with the medium in which it is dispersed."
Is Meant By Colloidal Suspension?
term 'colloidal suspension' isn't altogether accurate. Substances
held in a colloidal state are in a medium (any substance that
acts as a surrounding or enveloping base for another substance)
that is actually somewhere between a suspension and a solution.
However, for simplicities sake, we will use the term colloidal
suspension when referring to any substance that is held in a
colloidal state (e.g. ionic, plant-derived minerals within a
colloidal solution). The term used to describe the condition
in which materials are held in a stable, colloidal suspension
is called the 'dispersed phase.' In the dispersed phase they
are distributed evenly and uniformly ,throughout whatever medium
they are suspended in (e.g., water, gel, etc.). As stated above,
Colloids are so small that they cannot be seen with the naked
eye. However, not all materials that are finely divided and mixed
into a liquid medium are Colloids. Silt or silt-like compounds
(i.e., extremely fine earth or salts), are often found in water.
Even though silt can be so tiny that we don't notice its presence,
it is not a Colloid. A solution that contains true Colloids and
a solution containing silt is notably different. When left alone
and undisturbed, silt will settle out of water. This is due to
the fact that it is heavier and denser than the medium in which
it is being held. Tap water is a good example of this. Most unpurified
tap water contains materials that are not readily apparent to
the naked eye. As an experiment, place tap water in a glass and
leave it undisturbed for a few minutes or hours. After an hour
or two, inspect it. There will usually be sediment at the bottom
of the glass. This sediment is composed of materials which have
settled out of the medium. This settling action does not occur
with a properly formed colloidal preparation.
Once a substance
has been transformed into a stable, colloidal state, whether
by technologically advanced methods (electro-colloidal, chemical,
etc.), they are still too large and insoluble to dissolve but
are also too small to settle out of the suspension like silt
particles are known to do. This fixed state of suspension occurs
regardless of whether the substances are inorganic (metals) or
organic (plant tissues).
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