What does it mean to dissolve?
The basics of dissolving
Many people ask the question “what does it mean to dissolve”? Well dissolving can start out very simple. For example if you put sugar in a glass of water is disappears. Except I know we can give a more thorough result, we know much more than what we can see with our eyes. What is actually happening to the sugar? What things can dissolve other than sugar? Why can we
Sugar-dissolving-in-water diagram.jpg
Figure 1 how sugar dissolves
taste the sugar but not see it? These are the more complex answers to the question of dissolving and the ones I plan to answer. When things dissolve there is actually more things happening then you think. It is amazing how one topic can cover much more than you really thought. We all probably know that things don’t just disappear. The sugar is still there it has just changed forms. In this case the sugar just turned into microscopic pieces or sugar molecules.The Atoms of the sugar start breaking into pieces. So basically when the sugar or salt reaches the liquid it breaks up into small pieces. In fact the pieces are so small you cannot see them anymore. The pieces then spread out in the glass. So our tongues are sharp enough to taste the sugar or salt but our eyes are not sharp enough to see them. You probably already know they did not disappear but know you know where they go.

What do we call all of these things scientifically?
sugar dissolving it water.jpg
figure 2 sugar being poured in water. Water is the solvent and sugar is the solute

Dissolving is a much researched topic so there must be names for these things other than the thing that the thing is dissolving in. So the thing that the thing is dissolving in is called a solvent. Water is a very common solvent. Another big word is a solute. A solute is something that can dissolve, like sugar or salt. Solubility is a very important word. Solubility is the rate something dissolves. Something’s dissolve slowly but something dissolve very fast. Sugar dissolves very fast but things like chalk dissolve very slowly. Something’s take thousands of years to dissolve like limestone. somethings can dissolve quicker or slower depending on how hot the thing is. You can’t talk about dissolving without learning these three important terms.

Colloids and electrolytes
Now that we know the basics of dissolving we can get more specific. We can get in to talking about electrolytes and colloids. Let’s talk about Colloids first; colloids do not have the ability to dissolve, Colloids are a bunch of molecules that group together and as I said cannot dissolve. To dissolve it has to spread out which because they are a group they don’t spread. Milk, fog, Gelatin, and smoke are all examples of colloids. Now for electrolytes, they are an electric charged gel or liquid. They are very common in sport drinks. Water is a very common solvent, even for electrolytes. Electrolytes and colloids can both be tricky but in the end they are simple and easy to understand.

A conclusion to dissolving
Over all dissolving is a tricky subject, there is so much more that you could look at. You could look more into how solubility is measured, you could see how long it takes for certain things to dissolve, you could look more into how chemicals dissolve, learn about atoms and so much more. Dissolving is such a small topic and very broad you can learn about so many more things about the topic by having a specific topic. So next time you watch something dissolve think of how much is really happening in that glass.

Fun facts and extra information
* Both solids and liquids can dissolve.
* Water can dissolve or dilute chemically active solutions so that they are harmless.
* Sugar and salt are the most common solute when it comes to dissolving.
* Styrofoam seems to never dissolve but sometimes it just takes thousands and hundreds of years to dissolve.

To learn more about the nature of matter beyond dissolving click on this link
Also to receive some extra information click on this link that also talks about dissolving
dissolveing diagram.jpg
figure 3 what it looks like when sugar is dissolving in water

Colloids- Molecules that bunch up together and cannot dissolve.
Dilute- To add more solvent to a solution
Microscopic-too small to see
Molecules- A very small piece of something
Solubility- the rate something dissolves.
Solutes- The thing that dissolves.
Solvents- Something that a solute can dissolve in.

Thank you to our amazing resources…………
  • Lafferty,Peter. Macmillan revised Encyclopedia of science. new York City: Macmillan library reference. 1633. print
  • National geographic society. The Nature of Matter.New York city:Educated divison of Washington D.C.2002.print.
  • Solubility of things “why do things dissolve.” Solubility of things. Educating Online, 2009.web 9/24/2012
  • Solution." Compton's by Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online School Edition.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2012. Web. 13 Sept. 2012.