There are several types of fractionating columns, and they relate to theoretical plates. All fractionation columns are placed between the distilling flask and the distilling head, which connects the fractionating column to the condenser. Fractionating columns have multiple levels each being further away from the heating source. When moving up the column, the temperature, therefore, decreases. As vapors travel up the column, they cool and condense at more than one level. Some vapors will condense at the bottom range of their boiling point. Other vapors, of the same compound, will condense at the top range of their boiling point. This ensures that all the components of a compound will vaporize and condense at their full boiling point range, and so the separation is high yielding.

Figure 1: Image of fractionating column