A simple criterion is proposed to quantitatively estimate the resistance of aggregates based on incremental mechanical shear disturbances. Aggregate strength can be affected by the hydrodynamic conditions under which flocculation occurs; therefore, an experimental method is standardized to determine the resistance of aggregate structures that are formed under defined conditions of salinity (NaCl 0–0.1 M), mixing time (3 min), and mean shear rate (G = 273 s−1). Kaolin particles were flocculated in saline solutions with an anionic flocculant of high molecular weight. The method involves increasing the mean shear rate (G = 0–1516 s−1). Each increment represents a new experiment that starts from the base of 273 s−1. Target aggregates are increasingly fragmented as mechanical disturbance increases. The monotonic relationship between the mean shear rate increments (ΔG) and the final size of the aggregates is used for a quantitative estimate of the resistance of the target aggregates since this resistance underlies this relationship. The evolution of aggregate size is analyzed by the Focused Beam Reflectance Measurement (FBRM) method, which may capture the chord length distribution on concentrated slurries. To estimate and compare the resistance of the target aggregates in solutions with different salinities, a pseudo-first-order model that describes the rupture degree as a function of shear rate increments obtains the characteristic shear rate. The rupture percentage is reached with considerably lower agitation increments at higher salinity than at low salinity. This criterion is expected to help improve the efficiency of solid–liquid separation processes, especially in plants operating with seawater, be it raw or partially desalinated. 

Keywords: kaolin flocculationaggregate strengthsalinityflocculation kineticflocculation mechanism