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What is a solvent?

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Quick Answer

A solvent is the substance into which another substance dissolves to form a solution. It is the largest part of the solution. Its counterpart, the solute, is the part that dissolves within the solvent.

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What is a solvent?
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Full Answer

Liquids or gases are potential solvents. Several rules apply to help determine which is the solvent and which is the solute in a given solution. First, the solvent is there in greater quantity than the solute. Secondly, the solute has a change of state when it dissolves. Water is often called a "universal solvent" because it dissolves so many different substances. This fact is especially important within the human body.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What is a non-aqueous solvent?

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    A solvent is a substance that dissolves a solute in the formation of a solution, and any solvent other than water is considered a non-aqueous solvent. Some common examples include ether, alcohol, benzene, disulphide, carbon tetrachloride and acetone. While water is a useful solvent for investigating acid-base properties, the differences between water and other solvents mean that non-aqueous solvents often provide more realistic experimental outcomes.

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  • Q:

    What are some common types of solutes?

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    A solute is a substance which is dissolved in a solvent to make a solution; a common example is sugar. Sugar added to water, which is the solvent in this case, dissolves into sugar water.

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  • Q:

    What is the enthalpy of solution?

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    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 acetic acid used for?

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    Acetic acid is an organic solvent that is used for a variety of industrial, analytical and medical purposes. It has the structural formula "CH3COOH" and exists as a colorless liquid at room temperature. Acetic acid is a component of vinegar and is what gives vinegar its characteristic smell.

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