IS SOIL A PURE SUBSTANCE? Soil as a Living thing

IS SOIL A PURE SUBSTANCE? Soil as a Living thing

 IS SOIL A PURE SUBSTANCE? Soil as a Living thing

 No, soil is not a pure substance. This is because it contains more than one compound or element. For clarity, soil is a mixture of living and dead organic materials, water, and air. 

 There is an amazing reaction between these four ingredients that make the soil one of the most important and dynamic natural resources.

 This article will give you an explanation of what a pure substance is, what a mixture is, and why soil is not a pure substance. 

IS SOIL A PURE SUBSTANCE? Soil as a Living thing
Soil Image by Pexel

 IS SOIL A PURE SUBSTANCE? Soil as a Living thing

What is meant by a pure substance?


A pure substance is any substance whose composition is made of either a single type of compound or a single type of atom. A pure substance has definite composition and definite property. Once a substance has more than one type of atom or molecule, it is considered a mixture. 


Differences between a mixture and a pure substance




Cannot be separated by physical means into two new individual products.

Can be separated using different physical separation techniques.

The chemical and physical properties of pure substances are constant.

The chemical and physical properties of mixtures are not constant.

Pure substances are made of single compounds or elements.

Mixtures are made of more than one compound or element.

 IS SOIL A PURE SUBSTANCE? Soil as a Living thing

What is soil?


Understanding whether or not the soil is a pure substance comes with understanding what exactly soil is. Unfortunately, many people do not understand this as there are varying incorrect and laymen definitely for the term "soil."  


However, here is a correct definition of soil from a reliable source. This definition is from the soil science society of America (SSSA).


Soil is the unconsolidated organic material or mineral on Earth's immediate surface that serves as a natural growth medium of land plants. (Il) The unconsolidated organic matter or mineral on the earth's surface that has over time been subjected to, and shows the effect of environmental and genetic factors of; climate and micro and macro-organisms that are conditioned by relief and are acting on parent material over a longer time frame.


Is soil a pure substance or a mixture?


Soil is a mixture and not a pure substance. The reason is because the components of soil are physically present in the same place without having a chemical bond.


These substances can be separated too without needing any kind of chemical reaction. And this is the definition of a mixture. 


The fact that soil consists of different types of substances without chemical bonds that can be separated through physical means makes the soil a mixture, not a pure substance.  

 IS SOIL A PURE SUBSTANCE? Soil as a Living thing

What is soil substance?

Generally, soil contains 5% organic matter, 25% air, 20% water, and 40-45% inorganic matter. 


For the sustainment of plants' life, a proper combination of mineral, air, water, and organic materials is compulsory. 


The chemical composition of the soil is; 

  • Some top four elements — Nitrogen, Carbon, Oxygen, and Hydrogen. 

  • Traces of certain elements or micronutrients — Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium, Sulphur, and Phosphorus.

  • Neutral pH — 6.3-6.8 this is great for many plants. 

  • Micronutrients — Chlorine, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, Molybdenum, and Iron. 


 IS SOIL A PURE SUBSTANCE? Soil as a Living thing

Why is soil not considered a pure substance?

Soil is not considered a pure substance because it is made of different components that are different elements and compounds. Soil is not a pure substance because the components that make up soil do not have chemical bonds and can be physically separated.  


Soil is a heterogeneous mixture and not a pure substance. Soil has no physical or chemical properties like a melting point or boiling point. It also does not have a constant and fixed structure. 


What type of mixture is soil?

Soil is a heterogeneous mixture. This is because it consists of different parts of elements that are distinguishable. And these elements are chemically inconsistent. 


And as we have seen, the soil is chemically inconsistent. This makes it a heterogeneous mixture.


In a homogenous mixture, the mixed components are distributed uniformly throughout the mixture throughout.  This means they are uniform throughout. But this is not the case with soil. 


In soil, some parts have more concentration of some of its components. There is no equal distribution of each existing element present in the soil. 


Some parts have more water and some parts have more microbes. Two different soil samples from the same location are very likely to show different water and microorganisms concentrations. 


There is hardly the possibility of attaining homogeneity in soil, even if you are to grind it to a fine powder. There will always be the inconsistency of the concentration of the elements that are present therein.


 IS SOIL A PURE SUBSTANCE? Soil as a Living thing

Are soil and water a water colloid?

No, soil and water are not colloids. It is a suspension because of its heterogeneous nature. There is no dissolution of the particles as they remain suspended throughout the medium bulk. The existing parties in a suspension are always visible without the use of a microscope. 


Colloids are substances that consist of particles which are substantially larger than ordinary molecules or atoms, albeit, cannot be viewed with the naked eye. 


 IS SOIL A PURE SUBSTANCE? Soil as a Living thing

Is soil a solution?

No. Soil is not a solution because it is not a homogenous mixture. A solution involves the dissolution of one or more substances. But this is not the case with soil.  


There is a soil solution though, but the soil itself is not a solution. A soil solution is a medium through which the solution and the surface reaction take place. 


This aqueous solution consists of dissolved matter obtained from the soil's biochemical and chemical process and from an exchange with the biosphere and hydrosphere.  


Is soil a living thing or not?

Figuratively, the soil is a living thing. Soil is considered a living thing because it is a hub for living microorganisms. 

 There are a billion microorganisms in a handful of healthy soil. Healthy soil is an ecosystem of prey and predators. Scientifically speaking, the soil is not a living thing. It is only a mixture of organic matter, mineral particles, and living organisms like bacteria, fungi. 

 Soil life is pretty complex and interrelated. This makes it act like a complex organism that decomposes organic matter and recycles nutrients for plants. IS SOIL A PURE SUBSTANCE? Soil as a Living thing.


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