What is solvation?

1 Answer
May 8, 2014

Solvation is the process in which molecules of a solvent attract the particles of a solute.

The main forces in solvation are ion-dipole and hydrogen bonding attractions. It is the main reason why solutes dissolve in solvents.

Solvation Due to Ion-Dipole Interactions

Ionic compounds like NaCl dissolve in polar solvents like water.

There are strong ion-dipole attractions between the ions and the water molecules.


The Na⁺ ions attract the negative oxygen atoms of water. The Cl⁻ ions attract the positive hydrogen atoms of water. The ions become surrounded by a solvation shell of water molecules.

The closer the opposite charges can get to each other, the more stable the system. That's why solvation stabilizes the ions.

Solvation Due to Hydrogen Bonding

A glucose molecule has five OH groups. In solution, water molecules are hydrogen bonded to all these groups. A hydration shell of water surrounds the glucose molecules.


Here's a link to a video on solvation.