Q:

What is the difference between a solute and a solvent?

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Quick Answer

When discussing solutions, the solute is the substance which dissolves, while the solvent is the substance into which the solute dissolves. Creating a salt water solution involves dissolving salt in water, making salt the solute and water the solvent. However, determining which is the solute or solvent is not always so simple, and some rules exist for determining which substance dissolves in the other.

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Full Answer

Three common states of matter exist: gases, liquids and solids. Only the solute goes through a change in state when a solution is created. If both reagents remain in the same state, the one of which there is the least remaining is the solute.

One example of a solution that is somewhat more complicated is the dissolution of hydrogen chloride gas within a liquid to create hydrochloric acid. Dissolving a gas in a solid, as with hydrogen in platinum, is a possible solution. While one might view a liquid as the solvent when it enters a solution with a solid, that is not always the case. It is possible to dissolve liquid mercury in solid sodium to create an alloy. Wine that is 12 percent alcohol by volume indicates the ratio of the solution of the alcohol within the solvent water.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What makes things dissolve?

    A:

    Solutions are formed when the energy of interaction between a solute and a solvent is greater than the total of solute-solute and solvent-solvent interactions. A solvent dissolves the solute. This holds true when the solute and solvent have similar properties.

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  • Q:

    What are examples of unsaturated solutions?

    A:

    Unsaturated solutions are solutions that contain less solute than the actual amount of solute that the solvent can dissolve. If more solutes can be dissolved in the solution, the solution is still considered unsaturated. Every solute and solvent combination has its limit, and once this limit is reached, the substance is in a state that is called the saturation point.

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  • Q:

    What is the enthalpy of solution?

    A:

    The enthalpy of solution refers to the temperature changes in a solution when a substance dissolves in the solvent. There can be positive or negative reactions to the temperature in a solution.

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  • Q:

    What is an example of a solute?

    A:

    A solute is a substance that can be dissolved in a fluid. One common example of a solute is ordinary table salt, or NaCl. Salt dissolves readily in water, which acts as the solvent.

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