What Are Examples of Pure Substances?

Definition and Examples of a Pure Substance

A diamond is an example of a pure substance. It has a homogenous composition.
A diamond is an example of a pure substance. It has a homogenous composition. Maciej Toporowicz, NYC / Getty Images

A pure substance or chemical substance is a material that has a constant composition (is homogeneous) and has consistent properties throughout the sample. A pure substance participates in a chemical reaction to form predictable products. In chemistry, a pure substance consists only of one type of atom, molecule, or compound. In other disciplines, the definition extends to homogeneous mixtures.

Here are examples of pure substances.

  • Examples of pure substances include tin, sulfur, diamond, water, pure sugar (sucrose), table salt (sodium chloride) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Crystals, in general, are pure substances.
  • Tin, sulfur, and diamond are examples of pure substances which are chemical elements. All elements are pure substances. Sugar, salt, and baking soda are pure substances which are compounds. Examples of pure substances which are crystals include salt, diamond, protein crystals, and copper sulfate crystals.
  • Depending on who you talk to, homogeneous mixtures may be considered examples of pure substances. Examples of homogeneous mixtures include vegetable oil, honey, and air. While these substances contain multiple types of molecules, their composition is consistent throughout a sample. If you add soot to air, it ceases to be a pure substance. Contaminants in water make it impure.

Heterogeneous mixtures are not pure substances.

Examples of materials which are not pure substances include gravel, your computer, a mixture of salt and sugar, and a tree.

Tip for Recognizing Pure Substances

If you can write a chemical formula for a substance or if it is a pure element, it is a pure substance!

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "What Are Examples of Pure Substances?" ThoughtCo, Sep. 21, 2017, thoughtco.com/examples-of-pure-substances-608350. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2017, September 21). What Are Examples of Pure Substances? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/examples-of-pure-substances-608350 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "What Are Examples of Pure Substances?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/examples-of-pure-substances-608350 (accessed November 17, 2017).