Paper chromatography is one method for testing the purity of compounds and identifying substances. Paper chromatography is a useful technique because it is relatively quick and requires small quantities of material.
Separations in paper chromatography involve the same principles as those in thin layer chromatography. In paper chromatography, like thin layer chromatography, substances are distributed between a stationary phase and a mobile phase. The stationary phase is usually a piece of high quality filter paper. The mobile phase is a developing solution that travels up the stationary phase, carrying the samples with it. Components of the sample will separate readily according to how strongly they adsorb on the stationary phase versus how readily they dissolve in the mobile phase.