Q:

What is a polar solvent?

A:

Quick Answer

A polar solvent is composed of molecules, such as H2O, that have a discernible asymmetry in their surface electromagnetic charge. Water molecules consist of one oxygen atom single-bonded to two hydrogen atoms that are grouped together on one side of the molecule. This concentrates a negative charge at one pole.

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Full Answer

Polar solvents dissolve similarly polar solutes. A good example of this is salt dissolving in water. Table salt is NaCl, or ionic sodium chloride. The extra electron adds a strong negative charge to the salt molecule and makes it strongly polar. Water readily dissolves polar solutes, while nonpolar solutes, such as oil, do not.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why doesn't oil and water mix?

    A:

    Oil and water don't mix because water molecules have a small positive charge at one end, and a small negative charge at the other end, so they stick to each other. But oil molecules are without charge, which causes them to be attracted to each other more than water.

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  • Q:

    What are polar liquids?

    A:

    Polar liquids are made up of covalently bonded molecules that each have a partial positive charge on one end and a partial negative charge on the other end. They can dissolve solids that are made of polar molecules but cannot combine with a substance made of nonpolar molecules.

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  • Q:

    Why don't lipids and water mix?

    A:

    Lipids and water do not mix because lipids are nonpolar molecules without a charge, so they do not attach themselves or bond to charged (polar) water molecules. Only charged polar molecules will attach to other charged molecules.

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  • Q:

    What dissolves in water?

    A:

    Water is a polar solvent, meaning it has partial opposite charges at each end of each molecule, and so ionic substances, in which each particle is charged, and other polar substances dissolve best in water. However, to dissolve a substance, the attraction of the solvent for particles of the solute must be greater than the forces holding the solute together, so many ionic substances are not soluble in water.

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