Translator for HPLC HINTS and TIPS for Chromatographers

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Chromatography Basics - Coffee Filter Chromatography

This month I would like to promote sharing and learning about chromatography with others. As scientists, sharing and passing on information to others is key to introducing new people to how we use science and the scientific method to explore what things are made of. Examples of chromatography are often seen in every-day life. For example, a spilled liquid drink on a napkin often reveals different colored or toned rings radiating out, hinting at the many compounds present within the one solution.

One of the simplest examples of a paper chromatography method can be set up and safely run at home. A jar with some water serves as the mobile phase and a coffee filter as the "Column" or support. Ordinary ballpoint pen ink (i.e. blue) or a magic marker can provide "samples" to evaluate. If available, various pure alcohols can replace the water and used as mobile phase solution(s) which may improve resolution. 

Over the past decades I have used these simple setups to demonstrate both what the analytical technique of chromatography is and how it works to hundreds of people of all ages and backgrounds. Many of examples can be found on the web and I have included a link below to one of the more recent published methods from Scientific American magazine. Please demonstrate and share it with others. Perhaps in doing so you will unleash the curiosity of someone to delve deeper into understanding what things are made of or the scientific fields?

  Link to an article illustrating how to run some paper liquid chromatography experiments at home. "Chromatography: Be a Color Detective"