Blood is the most essential component of man’s circulatory system. Without blood, man’s life cannot be possible. This is because blood breathes life into the human body. But is blood homogeneous or heterogeneous? This question should be answered with an explanation. First, we have to know what homogeneous and heterogeneous mean.
What are Homogeneous Solutions?
Homogeneous mixtures or solutions have uniform or equally distributed components all throughout the mixture. They also appear as one. The components cannot be differentiated from each other.
- Coffee and water
- Milk and water
What are Heterogeneous Mixtures?
These are mixtures that have components, which you can differentiate visibly, or after performing separation techniques. The components don’t mix together.
- Sand and water
- Stones and water
- Oil and water
- Insoluble solid objects mixed with liquids
Let’s now analyze the components of blood.
Aside from the various substances, blood is composed of cells that can be separated through centrifugation.
1. Red Blood Cells or RBC (erythrocytes)
These cells are the oxygen carriers of the body. They are oval-shaped with a centralized pallor.
2. White Blood Cells or WBC (leukocytes)
Examples of agranulocytes are:
Examples of granulocytes are:
3. Platelets (thrombocytes)
These are tiny cells that help in the blood clotting or coagulation of blood.
Is Blood Homogeneous or Heterogeneous?
Criteria on how to determine if a mixture is homogeneous or heterogeneous:
1. Visual Observation
Look at the mixture with your plain eyes, does it appear uniform and has the same shade all over? Or are there no pieces of solid material that are visibly separated in the mixture? If the answer is ‘yes’, the mixture is homogeneous. If not, the mixture is heterogeneous.
When you look at blood right after it has been extracted (un-clotted blood), it’s uniform and has the same shade all throughout the container. There are no chunks or bits and pieces that can be observed by the eyes.
Take note that this is fresh blood – not yet clotted. In this aspect, I can say that blood is homogeneous.
2. Standing The Mixture for 30 Minutes
Allow it to stand for 30 minutes, then examine the mixture. If there are separated layers that settle at the bottom, then the mixture is heterogeneous. This occurs because the heavier particles tend to settle down at the bottom of the container.
In this criterion, allowing the blood to stand for 30 minutes will produce layers. If the blood is anti-coagulated, there will be three layers: the plasma (topmost portion), the buffy coat (the middle portion), and the red blood cells (bottom portion).
If the blood has clotted or coagulated, there are two layers: serum (topmost portion), and fibrin or clot (bottom portion).
There are distinct layers, which are visible to the eyes. This also happens when clotted or un-clotted blood is centrifuged. The procedure will separate the components of blood.
Based on these facts, I can conclude that blood is heterogeneous.
3. Examining The Color of The Mixture
Examine the mixture and observe if the color or consistency is uniform all throughout the mixture. If there are darker shades, or lighter shades, the mixture is heterogeneous.
When you examine closely the color of blood, it’s uniform (from the same person). With anti-coagulated blood, when you shake a tube after standing or centrifuging it, the mixture will acquire the characteristics of a homogeneous solution: the color is uniform color, and there are no visible, separated pieces.
For clotted blood, the mixture is heterogeneous, because the clot can no longer combine with the serum.
4. Adding a Coloring Agent/Dye
You can add a coloring agent/dye to see if the color spreads uniformly. If not, it’s heterogeneous.
Adding a dye to the un-clotted blood and shaking it will give you a homogeneous solution. But adding a dye to clotted blood, will give you a heterogeneous mixture. The solid clot would not be able to mix with the serum.
Based on these facts, I can say that blood can be heterogeneous and homogeneous at certain instances, depending on its state (clotted or un-clotted). However, the answer leans more on heterogeneous because it has more heterogeneous properties.
Furthermore, even when the anti-coagulated blood is centrifuged, three layers are still produced. Hence, these indicate that it’s heterogeneous.
What about you? What do you think? You can leave your comment below for our visitors to read.