What do solvents do to solutes? What phases can solutions be made of?

1 Answer
Jul 18, 2016

Solvents dissolve solutes. They are usually the substances that there are more of than the solute in a solution, and they are often a different phase (solid/liquid/gas) than the solute---though they don't have to be.

Usually, we think of solvents as fluids, which can be liquids or gases.


So, if you wanted...

  • You could dissolve (solid) salt, #"NaCl"#, in a lot of (liquid) water, #"H"_2"O"#, and water would be the solvent.
  • You could dissolve ammonia gas, #"NH"_3#, in a bunch of n-hexane liquid, #"C"_6"H"_14#, and n-hexane would be the solvent. The n stands for "neo", and emphasizes that it is #"H"_3"C"-("CH"_2)_4-"CH"_3#.
  • You could dissolve (liquid) benzene, #"C"_6"H"_6#, in large quantities of (liquid) toluene, #"C"_6"H"_5"CH"_3#, and toluene would be the solvent.

Any of these count as solutions. These are respectively a solid-liquid solution, a gas-liquid solution, and a liquid-liquid solution.