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Salt Hydrolysis and Solubility of Salts for JEE

Introduction to Salt Hydrolysis

Last updated date: 21st Mar 2023
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When an acid reacts with a base, salt and water are formed and the reaction is called neutralisation. Salts completely dissociate in aqueous solutions to give their constituent ions. The ions so produced are hydrated in water. In certain cases, the cation, anion or both react with water and the reaction is called salt hydrolysis. Hence, salt hydrolysis is the reverse of the neutralisation reaction.

Salts of Strong Base and Strong Acid

Let us consider the reaction between NaOH and nitric acid to give sodium nitrate and water.

$\mathrm{NaOH}(\mathrm{aq})+\mathrm{HNO}_{3}(\mathrm{aq}) \rightarrow \mathrm{NaNO}_{3}(\mathrm{aq})+\mathrm{H}_{2} \mathrm{O}(\mathrm{l})$

The salt NaNO3 completely dissociates in water to produce Na+ and NO3 ions.

$\mathrm{NaNO}_{3}(\mathrm{aq}) \rightarrow \mathrm{Na}^{+}(\mathrm{aq})+\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}(\mathrm{aq})$

Water dissociates to a small extent as

$\mathrm{H}_{2} \mathrm{O}(\mathrm{l}) \leftrightarrows \mathrm{H}^{+}(\mathrm{aq})+\mathrm{OH}^{-}(\mathrm{aq})$

Since $[H^+]=[OH^–]$, water is neutral

NO3 ions are the conjugate base of the strong acid HNO3 and Na+ is the conjugate acid of the strong base NaOH.

Solubility Product

In our day to day life, We have come across many precipitation reactions in inorganic qualitative analysis. For example, Dilute Hydrochloric acid is used to precipitate Pb2+ ions as PbCl2 where the solubility of salt in water is less. Kidney stones are developed over a period of time due to the precipitation of Ca2+ or as Calcium oxalate etc. Inorder to understand the precipitation of salts, let us consider the solubility equilibria that exist between the undissociated sparingly soluble salt and its constituent ions in solution.

For a general salt XmYn ,

$X_{m} Y_{n}(s){\overset{H_{2}O}{\rightleftarrows}} X^{n+}(a q)+n Y^{m-}(a q)$

The equilibrium constant for the above is

$K=\dfrac{\left[X^{n+}\right]^m\left[Y^{m-}\right]^{n}}{\left[X_{m} Y_{n}\right]}$

In solubility equilibria, the equilibrium constant is referred to as solubility product constant or otherwise known as Solubility product.

In such heterogeneous equilibria, the concentration of the solid is a constant and is omitted in the above expression can be written as

$K_{s p}=\left[X^{n+}\right]^m\left[Y^{m-}\right]^n$

The solubility product of a compound can be defined as the product of the molar concentration of the constituent ions, each raised to the power of its stoichiometric coefficient in a balanced equation that has attained equilibrium. The term Solubility is useful to decide whether an ionic compound can get precipitated when a solution that contains the constituent ions are mixed together.

When the product of molar concentration of the constituent ions i.e., ionic product of the constituent ions, exceeds the solubility product then the compound has the possibility to get precipitated. The expression for the solubility product and the ionic product appears to be the same but they aren’t same, because in the solubility product expression, the molar concentration represents the equilibrium concentration and in the ionic product, the initial concentration (or) concentration at a given time ‘t’ is used.

In general we can summarise as,

Ionic product > Kspprecipitation will occur and the solution is supersaturated.

Ionic product < Ksp , no precipitation and the solution is unsaturated.

Ionic product = Ksp , equilibrium exists and the solution is saturated.

Calculation of solubility of sparingly soluble salts

Substances like Silver Chloride, Lead Sulphate etc., are sparingly soluble in water. The solubility product of such substances can be determined using the conductivity measurements.

Let us consider AgCl as an example

AgCl (s) ⇆ Ag+ + Cl

Ksp = [Ag+] [Cl-]

Let the concentration of $[Ag^+]$ be ‘C’ molL–1.

As per the stoichiometry, if $[Ag^+]$ = C, the $[Cl^–]$ also equal to ‘C’ molL–1.

$\mathrm{K}_{\mathrm{sp}}=\mathrm{C} \cdot \mathrm{C} \Rightarrow \mathrm{C}^{2}$

We know that the concentration (in terms of mol dm–3) is related to the molar and the specific conductance by the following expressions.

$\Lambda_{\circ}=\dfrac{\kappa \times 10^{-3}}{C\left(\mathrm{in}~\mathrm{mol}~L^{-1}\right)}$


$C=\dfrac{\kappa \times 10^{-3}}{\Lambda}$

Substitute the concentration value in the relation $K_{sp}=C^{2}$

$C=\left(\dfrac{\kappa \times 10^{-3}}{\Lambda_{o}}\right)^{2}$

Soluble Salts

Compounds that are soluble in water at room temperature are called Soluble Salts. These salt compounds readily get dissolved in water because they can form intermolecular attractions within the molecules of water. We know that the Water molecules are always polar in nature. Therefore, water can be termed as polar solvent, and polar salts can get dissolved in water.

Since salts are known to be ionic compounds, they readily get dissolved in water because water molecules tend to attract the ions in the compound, which makes them get separated from each other, which results in the dissolution of the salt. Here, the dissolution of the salt forms ionic species in water, which makes the newly formed aqueous solution to behave highly conductive. The ionic species dissolved in water may conduct electricity through it. An example of a soluble salt is table salt or sodium chloride (NaCl). The aqueous solution of NaCl contains sodium ions and chloride ions. Soluble Salts examples: NaCl, KCl, MgCl2 etc.

Insoluble Salts

Insoluble salts are those salt compounds that are insoluble in water at room temperature. These are insoluble in water because of the fact that water molecules cannot attract the ions in the salt compound. Therefore, we cannot see any intermolecular interactions between water molecules and the insoluble salt compounds.

Furthermore, insoluble salts are generally nonpolar compounds. Unlike the soluble salts, the mixing of insoluble salts with water does not make the solution conductive because the salt does not separate into ions in this case. Insoluble Salt Example: AgCl, PbNO3, PbCl4.

Difference Between Soluble and Insoluble Salts

Soluble Salts

Insoluble Salts

Soluble Salts are those salt compounds that are soluble in water at room temperature

Insoluble salts are referred to the salt compounds that are insoluble in water at room temperature


Non Polar

Have intramolecular attractions with water molecules

Non Intermolecular attractions with water molecules

Dissolution in water increases the Conductivity

Have no impact on the conductivity of water

Eg: Sodium Chloride

Eg: Silver Chloride


We can classify the salt compounds into two types depending on their water solubility. They are soluble and insoluble salts. The key difference between soluble and insoluble salts is that the soluble salts can get dissolved in water at room temperature, whereas the insoluble salts cannot. Moreover, the soluble salts are polar; that is why they can get dissolved in water, which is a polar solvent. Contrary to this, insoluble salts are nonpolar. So, this is another prominent difference between soluble and insoluble salts.

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FAQs on Salt Hydrolysis and Solubility of Salts for JEE

1. Describe the salts of oxo-acids of alkali metals and their solubility.

Alkali metals form salts with all the oxo-acids. Most of these salts are generally soluble in water and are thermally stable. As the electropositive character increases down the group in the periodic table, the stability of the carbonates and bicarbonates increases. This is due to the decrease in polarising power of alkali metal cations. The carbonates (M2CO3) of alkali metals are remarkably stable up to 1273 K, above which they first melt and then eventually decompose to form oxides. 

(M = Na, K, Rb, Cs)

All the carbonates and bicarbonates of alkali metals are soluble in water and their solubilities increase rapidly on descending the group. This is due to the reason that lattice energies decrease more rapidly than their hydration energies on moving down the group.

2. Is Sodium Carbonate Salt soluble in water? List the properties and uses of Na2CO3.

Yes Sodium carbonate is soluble in water. It is commonly known as washing soda, crystallises as decahydrate which is white in colour. It is soluble in water and forms an alkaline solution. Upon heating, it loses the water of crystallisation to form monohydrate. Above 373 K, the monohydrate of Sod. Carbonate becomes completely anhydrous and changes to a white powder called soda ash.


i. Sodium carbonate is known as washing soda and is used mainly for laundering.

ii. It is also used in water treatment to convert the hard water to soft water.

iii. It is used in the manufacturing of glass, paper, paint etc.