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What is a Solute?

Do you know the solute definition?  A solute is a substance that is dissolved in a solvent to form a solution. In an unsaturated solution, the concentration of solute is much lower than that of the concentration of solvent. Let’s take an example of a solution from day to day life. A solution of salt and water. In the given solution, salt acts as a solute while water acts as a solvent. So salt and water in the given example are solute and solvent examples respectively. Here, we will study what is meant by solute, solute, and solvent examples in detail.


What is Solute and Solvent?

To define solute and solvent, let us go through the following explanation. 

A homogeneous mixture consists of two or more substances in which a solute is dissolved into another solvent substance. The concentration of a solute in a solution is a measure of how much of the solute is dissolved in the solvent with respect to how much solvent is present.


Characteristics of Solute

  1. A solution is a homogeneous mixture of two or more substances. 

  2. The solute particles in a solution are not visible to the naked eye. 

  3. A solution does not cause light beams to scatter. 

  4. A solution is stable. 

  5. The solute cannot be separated from the solution by filtration (or mechanically). 

  6. It is composed of one phase only.


Types of Solute

Homogeneous means that a single phase is formed by the components of the mixture. Heterogeneous means that there are different phases formed by the different components of the mixture. 

The properties of the mixture, including concentration, temperature, and density, may be distributed uniformly through the volume, but only in the absence of or after the completion of diffusion phenomena. The three forms of solute are:

  • Gaseous

  • Liquid

  • Solid


Gaseous

In a given set of conditions if the solvent is gas then only gases can be dissolved as solutes and the solution is said to be a gaseous solution. Example: Air is a gaseous solution, nitrogen being the most abundant gas in the air and all the other gases such as oxygen are dissolved in it.


Liquid

If the solvent is liquid then all the three forms of matter, solid, liquid, and gas can be dissolved as a solute in it. Some solute and solvent examples are given below.


Gas in liquid

  1. Oxygen in water

  2. Carbon dioxide in water


Liquid in liquid

  1. Alcoholic drinks are simply water-based ethanol solutions (where ethanol is a solute and water is a solvent.).


Solid in liquid

  1. Sugar solution (Sucrose is a solute added to water which is a solvent)

  2. Salt solution (Sodium chloride is a solute added to water)


Solid

If the solvent is solid then all the three forms solid, liquid and gas can be dissolved as a solute. Some solute and solvent examples are given below-


Gas in Solid

  1. Hydrogen gets readily dissolved or adsorbed on the surface of the metal such as palladium.


Liquid in Solid

  1. An amalgam is formed when the mercury as a solute is dissolved in gold.

  2. Moist solids are formed when water is dissolved in solid salt or sugar.


Solid in Solid

  1. Iron, which is essentially a carbon atom solution in a crystalline matrix of iron atoms. 

  2.  Bronze - like alloys and several others. 

  3. Plasticizer - containing polymers


Solute Examples

Solutions

Corresponding Solute In The Solution

Brass alloy

Zinc in copper

Amalgam

Mercury in silver

Antifreeze in radiator

Ethylene glycol ​inwater

Carbonated beverages

CO2 in water

Air in atmosphere

Many gases in nitrogen

Bronze

Tin dissolved in copper


A homogenous mixture of two or more substances in relative quantities that can be continually varied up to what is known as the solubility limit. The word solution is usually applied to the liquid state of matter, but gas and solid solutions are also possible. A solution can be saturated and unsaturated. Saturated solutions are said to be those solutions where no more solute can be dissolved at a particular temperature. Unsaturated solutions are said to be those solutions where more solute can be dissolved at a given temperature. 


Did You Know?

We can calculate the concentration of solute and solvent by various methods. Two different units are defined to express the concentration.

  • Molarity is defined as the number of moles of solute present in 1L of solution. It is denoted by M. Molarity can be expressed as-

M= no. of moles of solute/ volume of solution in liters.

  • Molality is defined as the number of moles of solute present in 1kg of solvent. It is denoted by m. Molality can be expressed as-

m= no. of moles of solute/ mass of solvent in kg.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is known to be a solute?

Usually, a solute is a substance dissolved in a liquid. Salt is the solute that dissolves in water, the solvent, to form a saline solution. On the other hand, since nitrogen and oxygen are present in the gas at much higher concentration rates, water vapour is considered an air solute.

2. What is meant by solubility?

Solubility is the ability of a solid, liquid, or a gaseous substance (called a solute) to dissolve in a solvent and form a solution. Solubility depends on the nature of solvent, temperature, and pressure.

3. What is Colligative Property?

Solutions’ colligative properties are properties that depend on the concentration of molecules or ions of the solute, but not on the identity of the solute. Colligative properties include lowering of vapour pressure, boiling point elevation, depression of the freezing point, and osmotic pressure.

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