Why Are Some Electrolytes Strong While Others Are Weak?

electrolytes-strong-others-weak Credit: pbemjestes/CC-BY-2.0

Substances that are strong electrolytes are ionic compounds that will disassociate completely in water and create a solution that conducts electricity. Weak electrolytes, although they will form some ions in water, will mostly remain in a molecular form and only conduct electricity to a small degree. The ions that are easily dissociated in water from strong electrolytes are excellent conductors of electric current in solution.

An example of a strong electrolyte is hydrochloric acid (HCl), which will dissociate 100 percent in water. Sulfuric acid (H2SO4), nitric acid (HNO3) and chloric acid (HClO3) are all strong electrolytes. Salts and bases can also be strong electrolytes, such as sodium chloride (NaCl, commonly known as table salt) and the bases potassium hydroxide (KOH) and sodium hydroxide (NaOH). Strong electrolytes will only conduct electricity when in an aqueous solution or molten state.