What is it called when sodium and chloride ions separate when dissolved in water?

1 Answer
Dec 4, 2014

This process is called dissociation. The #"Na"^+"# ions are attracted to the partially negatively charged oxygen atoms of the water molecules, and the #"Cl"^(-)"# ions are attracted to the partially positively charged hydrogen atoms of the water molecules. When this happens, the sodium chloride dissociates into individual ions, which are said to be in solution.

Sodium chloride in water forms a sodium chloride solution. Because the sodium chloride solution can conduct electricity, it is an electrolytic solution, and NaCl is an electrolyte. The following diagram illustrates the dissociation of sodium and chloride ions when dissolved in water.