Iron filings are typically grayish in color, insoluble in water, magnetic and solid in room temperature. These materials are commonly used in scientific experiments to illustrate the effects of magnetism.
Matter is characterized by its rest mass and the physical space it occupies. It is classified based on its composition and properties. The various constituents and the relative amounts comprising matter refer to its composition, while the qualities and features pertaining to its properties uniquely identify one type of matter from another. The properties of matter are categorized into two: chemical and physical. Chemical properties are observable and quantifiable by modifying the basic composition of matter, while physical properties can be measured without altering the fundamental identity of matter. Common examples of physical properties include color, density, boiling point, melting point, solubility and magnetism.
Iron filings are primarily composed of iron. Some of the physical properties of the chemical element include a density of 7.67 g/cm3, melting point of 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit and boiling point of 5,182 degrees.
Laboratory experiments often use iron filings to demonstrate separation techniques involving different substances. Iron filings are mixed with other compounds such as salt and sugar, which are then separated based on the differences in their physical properties. Since iron is a metallic solid that exhibits magnetic properties, the filings cannot be dissolved in water. The only way to separate the filings is to use a magnet to draw the iron filings away from the rest of the mixture.