What is a solute?


Quick Answer

A solute is the substance being dissolved in a mixture or solution. In both chemical and non-chemical settings, a solute may be called a substance.

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Full Answer

The preparation of solutions or mixtures involves several components. The names of these components sound quite similar and as such often cause confusion.

  • Solution
  • Solvent
  • Solute

One way to remember the relationship between the components is that a solution is the result of one or more solutes that have been dissolved in a solvent. Ultimately, a solution is a homogeneous mixture of substances that form a single substance. At the completion of the process, the resulting solution has the same physical state as the solvent.

The solvent is the component of the solution that is responsible for dissolving the solutes. A solvent can be gaseous, liquid or solid and is usually the component of largest measurement in the solution.

The solute is the component that is dissolved in the solvent. A solution may have more than one solute at a time. It is important to recognize that solutes can also be in gas, liquid or solid form.

The way to distinguish between the solvent and the solute is to observe which component changes its form during the creation of the solution. If neither substance appears to change as the solution is formed, the component that is present in the smallest amount is the solute.

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