What is the Difference Between Clarification and Filtration

Clarification and filtration are two processes that help to refine or purifying substances. These are methods used to separate solid particles from liquids.  In both cases, a physical barrier separates the solids from the liquid.  However, clarification and filtration are two different processes. 

What is the difference between clarification and filtration? Clarification is the removal of small amounts of solid particles from liquids, whereas filtration is a specific type of clarification that uses a physical barrier to remove particles from a liquid.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Clarification 
      – Definition, Features 
2. What is Filtration
      – Definition, Features
3. Similarities Between Clarification and Filtration
      – Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Clarification and Filtration
      – Comparison of Key Differences
5. FAQ: Clarification and Filtration
      – Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Key Terms

Clarification, Filtration

Difference Between Clarification and Filtration - Comparison Summary

What is Clarification

Clarification is the process of removing unwanted suspended particles from a liquid to make it clearer. These particles can be either microscopic or large enough to be seen from the naked eye (for example, colloids, suspended solids and precipitates). Clarification isolates the desired product (a dissolved substance) from unwanted byproducts or impurities.

There are many methods of clarification. Filtration is one such method. Other methods are sedimentation, centrifugation, coagulation, and flocculation. There are many applications of clarification. One is purifying water. This involves removing microorganisms and dirt before consumption. Isolating crystals (separating crystallized product from the reaction mixture after synthesis) is also an application of clarification.

What is Filtration

Filtration is a physical separation technique used to separate solid particles from a fluid (liquid or gas) by passing the mixture through a filter medium.  Filter medium has a porous structure that contains pores of a specific size. These pores are small so that the solid particles cannot move through (it passes the liquid through it). Moreover, a bed of sand, a tightly woven cloth, a coffee filter, or even a complex membrane with microscopic pores can be considered filter mediums.

Filtration involves the following elements and steps.

  1. The mixture – A heterogeneous mixture with liquid and suspended particles
  2. The filter – Placing the filter medium in a funnel
  3. Separation – When the mixture is poured onto the filter, the liquid, due to its smaller size, passes through the filter pores, collecting as the filtrate in a container below.


The filtration process has many uses. Filtration is used to purify liquids by removing unwanted solid contaminants. Moreover, preparing samples for analysis often involves filtration to remove interfering solids. After a reaction, filtration can be used to isolate the solid product from the reaction mixture.

Similarities Between Clarification and Filtration

  1. Both remove unwanted solid particles from a mixture.
  2. Furthermore, in both cases, a physical barrier separates the solids from the liquid. 

Difference Between Clarification and Filtration


  • Clarification is a broader term that refers to any process that removes unwanted materials from a liquid, including solids, gases, or even other liquids. Filtration, on the other hand, is a specific method of clarification that uses a physical barrier to separate solids from a liquid.


  • Clarification typically deals with removing relatively small amounts of solid particles, often referred to as haze or cloudiness. However, filtration can handle a wider range of particle sizes, from large and coarse to very fine particles.


  • Clarification can be achieved through various methods beyond filtration, such as flocculation, sedimentation, or centrifugation, while filtration relies solely on a physical barrier to separate particles.

FAQ: Clarification and Filtration

1. What is the difference between purification and clarification?

Purification aims for a much higher level of cleanliness. It removes a wide range of contaminants, including impurities, microorganisms (like bacteria), and even dissolved substances. Clarification focuses on removing unwanted particles or haze from a liquid. It doesn’t necessarily eliminate all impurities, just the larger, visible ones.

2. What is the main purpose of a clarifier?

The main purpose of a clarifier is to remove solid particles or suspended solids from a liquid. Clarifiers use gravity to settle out these solid contaminants. For lighter particles that float, clarifiers have mechanisms to skim them off the surface.

3. What is the clarification process?

The clarification process typically involves three main steps to remove suspended solids and improve the clarity of a liquid. These three steps include coagulation, flocculation and sedimentation .

4. What is the difference between clarification and sedimentation?

Clarification is the entire process of removing suspended solids and making a liquid clearer. Sedimentation is a specific step within clarification that relies solely on gravity.

5. What are the 3 basic method of filtering?

Three basic methods of filtering can be categorized based on the mechanism used to separate the desired component from the unwanted material. They are sieve filtration, depth filtration, and membrane filtration .


1. “Filtration.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation.

Image Courtesy:

1. “FilterDiagram” By Wikiwayman at English Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasini A

Hasini is a graduate of Applied Science with a strong background in forestry, environmental science, chemistry, and management science. She is an amateur photographer with a keen interest in exploring the wonders of nature and science.

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