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

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, $\text{NaCl}$, in a lot of (liquid) water, $\text{H"_2"O}$, and water would be the solvent.
• You could dissolve ammonia gas, ${\text{NH}}_{3}$, in a bunch of n-hexane liquid, ${\text{C"_6"H}}_{14}$, and n-hexane would be the solvent. The n stands for "neo", and emphasizes that it is ${\text{H"_3"C"-("CH"_2)_4-"CH}}_{3}$.
• You could dissolve (liquid) benzene, ${\text{C"_6"H}}_{6}$, in large quantities of (liquid) toluene, ${\text{C"_6"H"_5"CH}}_{3}$, 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.