Science, Tech, Math › Science Examples of Chemical Suspensions Share Flipboard Email Print DR JEREMY BURGESS / Getty Images Science Chemistry Basics Chemical Laws Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated September 01, 2019 In chemistry, a suspension is a mixture in which the solute particles—whether liquid or solid—do not dissolve. Most of the suspensions you encounter in everyday life consist of solid particles in liquids, but suspensions can also form from two liquids or even from a solid or liquid in a gas. One way to identify a suspension is by noting that the components typically separate over time. Mixing or shaking needs to occur to form a suspension. Given time, suspensions usually separate on their own. Mercury Shaken in Oil Mercury is a metallic element that is liquid at standard temperature and pressure. Because of its liquid properties, the element can be mixed with oil to produce a suspension. The mercury particles will disperse throughout the oil when the solution is shaken, but the particles will never dissolve. If left to sit, the two liquids will eventually separate. Oil Shaken in Water Water molecules, because of their polarity, are highly attracted to each other. They exhibit a "stickiness" that can be seen by slowly moving two water droplets toward each other. Oil molecules, on the other hand, are nonpolar, or hydrophobic, which prevents them from joining together with water molecules. Oil shaken in water will produce a suspension as the oil particles are momentarily scattered. Left undisturbed, however, the two elements will separate from each other. Dust in Air Dust in the air is an example of a solid-gas suspension. Dust—tiny particles that include pollen, hair, dead skin cells, and other materials—is lifted by wind and ventilation systems and scattered throughout the air, producing a suspension. Because particles of dust are solid, however, they will eventually return to earth and form a fine layer of sediment on the solid surfaces below. Soot in Air Soot, which takes the form of black smoke, is made up of carbon particles released through the combustion of coal and other carbon-rich energy sources. When it is first released, soot forms a solid-gas suspension in the air. This can be seen in fireplaces, power plants, and vehicles. Like dust in the air, soot eventually settles, blackening chimneys and other surfaces.