Solvent

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Solute, Solvent and Solution
1:04 — by Holly Murillo

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Key Questions

  • A solvent is something that dissolves something else - that something else is called a solute. The resulting mixture is called a solution.

    Essentially, a solvent works by pulling apart solute particles and forming complexes with them. The result is a mixture in which the solute particles are mixed together with the solvent particles, typically with little clusters of solvent molecules around each solute particle.

    Solvents can be solids, liquids, or gases. An example of a solid solvent is an alloy, where the metal acts as the solvent for whatever other particles are incorporated. A liquid solvent would be the water in salt water. A gaseous solvent would be the nitrogen in air, into which other gases, including oxygen, are mixed.

    OK.

  • Most industrial or academic reactions require a solvent present to induce reaction.Also they are important when dealing with solid reactants.

  • In a solution, the solvent is the thing that does the dissolving (usually a liquid) and the solute is the thing that gets dissolves (usually a solid). For example, in a salt water solution, the water dissolves the salt, making water the solvent and salt the solute.

    When I said that the solute is generally a solid and the solvent is generally a liquid, I meant that this is usually, but not always, true. For example, there are alloys in which both solvent and solute are metals, and air involves only gases.

    OK.

    Really simple with pictures on this page: http://www.chem4kids.com/files/matter_solution.html

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