Troubleshooting Common Issues in Thin Layer Chromatography: Practical Solutions

Troubleshooting Common Issues in Thin Layer Chromatography: Practical Solutions


  • Post By :

  • Source: Microbioz India

  • Date: 13 Nov,2023

Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) technique is used in the separation and analysis of mixtures by using a stationery phase, which is a thin layer of silica, and mobile phase, which is a solvent. When one applies the sample on the stationary phase, and the mobile phase moves through it, different components of the mixture travel at different rates, allowing for separation based on their affinities for the stationary and mobile phases. This technique is often used in labs to analyze compounds in substances.

Why is TLC used?

This method of chromatography called Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) has several advantages:

Quick and Cheap:

It’s fairly quick, cheap to set up, and therefore easily done frequently.

Separating Compounds:

Efficient separation of compounds by TLC can be visually observed.

Small Sample Size:

When there are limited quantities of samples available for analysis it requires very little amounts.

Qualitative Analysis:

To determine how many components there are in a mixture and what are their polarities it’s ideal for qualitative analysis.

Complementary Technique:

Many times it is used as an introduction or additional method that can be then followed with other more precise methods such as high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC).


Due to its simplicity and effectiveness that makes teaching chromatographic principles easy.

It includes fields like chemistry biochemistry pharmaceuticals forensics that make TLC important in these areas.

Troubleshooting Thin layer chromatography(tlc)

So then what might go wrong with thin layer chromatography (TLC)? Some common problems are not uniform spots, tailing or streaking poor separations. Here’s how to troubleshoot:

Not Uniform Spots:

Ensure an equal application of the sample where solvent should be added slowly to avoid interference.


  1. It could be due to either concentrated samples or too much solvent.
  2. The sample could be diluted or less concentrated solutions can be used.


It is often because of an overloaded sample or impurities. Reduce the amount of sample loaded or purify the sample more.

Poor Separation:

This can be due to using a wrong solvent system or a poor quality TLC plate. Change the solvent system or have another TLC plate.

Remember, TLC is sensitive to environmental factors, so working in a clean, dustfree area and ensuring precise application is essential for optimal results.

About Author