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What is an an element and how can you tell?

When you have some object in your hands you may wonder if it is an element or a compound. The way to tell the difference is to experiment or imagine if what you are holding could be separated into different substances or not.

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Matter consists of chemical elements
Sometimes in pure form
Sometimes in combinations called compounds
Sometimes in mixtures of compounds
Everything around us is composed of ...

Solution Summary

All matter is composed of elements but some matter is made of more than one kind of element in the form of compounds. Elements are the kind of matter that cannot be separated into different kinds of matter with other properties.