# What is the difference between an unsaturated solution and a saturated solution?

May 30, 2017

Well the difference is usually poorly appreciated at undergraduate level........

#### Explanation:

A saturated solution is a solution that contains the same amount of solute that would be in equilibrium with UNDISSOLVED solute.

$\text{Saturation}$ thus defines an equilibrium condition:

$\text{Solid solute "stackrel"solvent"rightleftharpoons" Dissolved solute}$

As well as a solute, and a solvent, a temperature is usually specified because a hot solution can generally dissolve more solute than a cold one.

And an unsaturated solution is a solution that holds an amount of solute that is LESS than the amount that would be in equilibrium with undissolved solute.

Definitions of $\text{saturation}$ such as................

$\text{the solvent holds all the solute that it can}$.........

ARE INADEQUATE and INCORRECT, inasmuch under certain conditions I could form a $\text{supersaturated solution}$ where the solvent holds an amount of solute GREATER than would be in equilibrium with undissolved solute.

If you are unclear as to my emphasis, come again, because this is a very important definition to understand.

And for once I found the relevant links...........