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liquid water + liquid oil + water vapor how many phases does this system have?

If it's 3 ... why can't we say it's 2 taking in consideration the liquid part and the vapor part "states of matter also called phases" ...
Please try to explain this concept if you can! thanks!

  • chemistry -

    Interesting question and interesting point. I think the problem is one of definition. Phase is defined as a region of space in which all of the physical and chemical properties are the same. That definition means oil and H2O are separate phases since the properties (density, boiling point, melting point, composition to name a few) are not the same. Here is a very good article from Wikipedia which suggests that "states of matter" and "phases of matter" often are used interchangeably but actually they are not the same. Yes, oil and water have the same STATE but they are different phases. I hope this is clear enough. Here is the site. I encourage you to read it. It isn't that long.

    I also note that liquid/water mixtures often are called "multiphase" systems.

  • chemistry -

    okay!! Thank you so much!!
    You have helped me a lot!

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