Commonly Seen Colloids in Daily Life

The subject of chemistry is both interesting and fascinating since most of the terms can be associated with daily life. The compounds like polymers, colloids, etc. are present in most of the household items. For example, plastic bags, PVC pipes, etc. are all polymers and milk, fog, etc. are colloids.

In this article, colloids and its types are mentioned and the most commonly used colloids in everyday life are discussed. First, it is important to understand what colloids are and its types in detail.

What are colloids?

Colloids, solutions and suspensions are the major types of mixtures. The size of the particles in a mixture distinguishes its type. In colloids, the particles are larger than the size of a molecule but smaller than the particles that can be seen with the naked eye. The sizes of particles in different mixtures are:

  • Solutions: 1 nm
  • Suspensions: >1 nm
  • Colloids: 1-1000 nm

Types of Colloids

Colloids are made up of two parts i.e. dispersing medium and dispersed material. In simple words, dispersing medium is that medium or substance where the colloidal particles or dispersed material are distributed. The dispersing medium and the colloidal particles can be the mix of either air, water or solid.

The classification of most commonly seen colloids is given here for the different combination of dispersed material and dispersion medium.

  • Type 1: Sol and Gels

Sols are colloidal suspension with solid particles in a solid or liquid. If both the dispersing medium and dispersing material are solid, the solution is called solid sols. If solid substances are suspended in liquids, the colloid is simply called sols. Colloids where dispersion medium is solid and dispersing material is liquid are called gels.

Solid Sol:
ruby glass, pearl, porcelain, colored glass, etc.

Sols: blood, muddy water, etc.

Gels: jelly, gelatin, etc.

  • Type 2: Emulsion

An emulsion is a colloidal solution where both the dispersed material and dispersing phase are both liquids. There are various emulsions used in everyday life. Some examples are given below.

Examples: milk, oil in water, mayonnaise, etc.

  • Type 3: Foam

A colloidal solution is called foam if solid particles are trapped in a solid or liquid. For a solid-solid solution, the colloid is called solid foam and for a solid-liquid solution, the colloid is just called foam.


Foam: shaving cream, whipped cream, suds, etc.

Solid Foam: pumice, aerogel, etc.

  • Type 4: Aerosol

Aerosol are the type of colloids where liquid or solids are dispersed in a gas. If solid is dispersed in a gas, it is called solid aerosol and is liquid is dispersed in a gas, it is called liquid aerosol.


Solid Aerosol: smoke, ice cloud, etc.

Liquid Aerosol: clouds, fogs, mist, etc.

These were some of the most commonly used colloids that are seen in daily life. It is also important to know that the colloids can be determined by using Tyndall effect or by passing the mixture through a semipermeable membrane.

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Ravi is a technical writer and part time blogger. He runs his own blog and admin of Ice Web Filter. He is working as a Search Engine Optimizer and E-Marketing Executive. Blogging is his hobby and he always love to do news research on technology, web design, and SEO.

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