contributed by: Tyler H.

Date of creation:9/30/11

Dissolving is the act of breaking down particles and letting them separate into their electrically charged ions. This is how an electrolyte dissolves in water. Ions make water more conductive when they are combined with in the water because they can transport electricity from place to place. A negatively (-) charged ion is called an anion and a positively (+) charged ion is called a cation. Most plastic-like coatings, paints, and varnishes are kept in liquid form until application because of evaporating solvents. The water, in this case would be the solvent and the electrolyte would be the solute. In many of today’s coatings, water is the main solvent which, if spilled or dropped, leads to an easy clean-up.
Figure 1: This is a chemical tablet dissolving. The tablet is the solute and the water in the beaker is the solvent.


A solvent is a substance that dissolves a liquid. People use a solvent every time they make the powdered Gatorade or the instant lemonade. They are using the solvent called water. Yes, water is a solvent. It dissolves the powder that makes up the lemonade or Gatorade. Most of the time, the solvent is the component that takes up the most room in a solution, but there are times when that rule does not apply. In concentrated sulfuric acid, the solvent-water-is 4 percent of the solution, and the solute-sulfuric acid-is 96 percent of the solution.


Figure 2: This is another chemical tablet dissolving. The image on the right of the beaker shows a close up shot of the tablet. It shows exactly what happens when something dissolves.


Solutes are what get dissolved in a solution. The powder of the Gatorade and the lemonade are the solutes. They are the matter that gets dissolved in the liquids. Most of the time, the solute is a solid, but there are times where the solute is a liquid or gas. In dry cleaning, the stain is the solute and the cleaner is the solvent. The solvent does not remove the cloth under the stain, but it does remove the stain. Taking cooking oils out of foods such as sunflower seeds and soybeans follows a very similar process-dissolving solutes by adding solvents to them.


Figure 3: A chemical tablet before it dissolved. It is a solute.


Dissolve-to pass or cause to pass into solution

Solvent-a substance that dissolves another to form a solution

Solute-the substance dissolved in a given solution


Dictionary.com. dissolve. Dictionary.reference.com. Dictionary.com. 2011. Web. 20 Sept. 2011.

"solvent." Compton's by Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online School Edition.
Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 2011. Web. 20 Sept. 2011.

VanCleave, Janice. Chemistry for Every Kid. 101 Easy Experiments that Really Work. New York: Jon Wiley & Sons, Inc. 1989. Print.