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Solute and Solvent

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Introduction

We all are aware of the term solution. Solution is defined as the homogenous mixture or two or more components. We come across solutions in our daily life also. There are many types of solution which we use everyday like lemon juice, sugar solution etc. But did you know what the components of a solution are called in chemistry? There are two components of a solution, one is solute and other is solvent. Solvents are divided into two types - polar solvents and non-polar solvents. Polymer industries use non-polar solvent such as toluene to dissolve non-polar polymers.

In this article, we are going to understand the basic concepts about solute and solvents, their types and differences.


What is Solvent?

The component which is present in the largest quantity in a solution is defined as a solvent. It is used to dissolve solutes in a solution. Water is used as a solvent for polar molecules. The phase of solvent is the same as that of solution.


What is Solute?

One or more than one component which is present in a solution other than a solvent is known as a solute. In a solution, there are more than one solute can be present. Mostly a solute is in a solid form but liquid and gaseous form solutes are also used. The concentration of a solute is always lower than that of a solvent.


Solute and Solvent Examples

The examples of a solute in different forms are given below:

The examples of a solvent in different forms are given below:

Difference Between Solvent and Solute

Solvent

Solute

1. Solvent is the component which is present in the large quantity in a solution.

1. All the components other than solvent are termed as solute.

2. It is present in large quantities.

2. It is present in small quantities.

3. Solvent dissolves.

3. Solute gets dissolved.

4. It defines the phase of solution.

4. The phase of solute and solution can be different.

5. Examples are water and nitrogen gas.

5. Examples are oxygen gas, sodium chloride and sugar.

Types of Solutes

As per the solvent used or solution need to be prepared, there are three forms of solutes which are added

  1. Gaseous - Mostly for gaseous solvents or preparing gaseous solution, gaseous solutes are used.

  2. Liquid - Liquid solutes can be used with any type of solvent.

  3. Solid - Most of the solutes are present in solid form only.

Types of Solvents

On the basis of electronegativity of the molecules of the components, solvents are divided into two categories,

  1. Polar solvents

  2. Non-polar solvents

Polar Solvents

The solvents whose atoms show moderate difference in their electronegativity are termed as polar solvents. The dipole moment, dielectric constant and static permittivity of polar solvent is high.

The examples of polar solvents are H2O and NH3.


Polar solvents are also divided into two types, protic solvents which contain a labile H+ and aprotic solvents which do not contain a labile H+.


Non-Polar Solvents

The solvents whose atoms do not have large differences in their electronegativity are termed as non-polar solvents. The dipole moment, dielectric constant and static permittivity of non-polar solvent is low.

The examples of non-polar solvents are toluene and CCl4.


Conclusion

The component which is present in the largest quantity in a solution is defined as a solvent. It is used to dissolve solutes in a solution. Mostly a solvent is in the liquid form but gaseous form solvents are also used. Water is used as a solvent for polar molecules. One or more than one component which is present in a solution other than a solvent is known as a solute. In a solution, there are more than one solute can be present. Mostly a solute is in a solid form but liquid and gaseous form solutes are also used. The concentration of a solute is always lower than that of a solvent.

Last updated date: 20th Sep 2023
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FAQs on Solute and Solvent

1. How can you identify the solute and solvent in a solution?

In order to identify the solute and solvent in a solution, just follow the definition of each of the terms. Let's take an example to understand this. Take a solution of salt and water. Now we know that a solvent is that component of a solution which is present in the largest quantity and all the components other than solvent are solute. So, water is present in the largest quantity in the salt solution, thus it is the solvent whereas salt is the solute.

2. Is water a solute or a solvent?

Most of the solutions are prepared in water and are in liquid form. Different types of solutes such as salt, sugar etc. are added in water to create a solution. These examples itself show that water is a solvent and not a solute. Also, it satisfies the definition of a solvent which says the component which is present in large quantities in a solution is termed as a solvent. Thus, water is usually a solvent.

3. Name one strong solvent other than water?

The strongest solvent known is butanone or MEK which stands for methyl ethyl ketone. It is one of the most effective and common solvents in the polymer industry.