Last Updated on September 6, 2020 by Sagar Aryal
A solute is a substance that is added to a solvent to form a solution.
- The solute can exist in all three forms of matter as solid, liquid, or gas.
- In a homogenous mixture, the solute completely dissolves in another substance, and the solute is uniformly distributed throughout the solution.
- In a heterogeneous mixture, the solute is not distributed uniformly, and its concentration is different in different parts of the solution.
- The amount of solute in a solution is measured in terms of its concentration. The concentration of solute in a solution is determined by the ratio of the amount of the solute and the total volume of the solution.
- The property of solute particles to dissolve within the solvent is termed as solubility. The solubility of a solute depends on a number of factors.
- In solids and gases, temperature directly affects the solubility of the solute. Pressure, however, only affects the solubility of gases.
- Besides, the ability of solid particles to dissolve in a solvent is dependent on their own chemical structure. Polar solute dissolves in a polar solvent and vice versa.
- The molecular size of the solute is also essential in the solution as the solvent breaks down the solute particles and distributes it throughout the solution.
- In almost all types of solutions, the amount or volume of solute is less than that of the solvent.
- Solute particles tend to have a higher boiling point than solvents.
- Examples of solute include salt in seawater, protons in the cytosol, sugar in tea, etc.
A solvent is a substance that dissolves the solute particles during the formation of a solution.
- Most solvents are in a liquid state, but some solvents might be in a gas or solid-state.
- The solvent breaks down the larger solute particle into smaller particles that can then be dispersed throughout the solution.
- Solvent forms the medium of the solution that makes up most of the volume of the solution.
- The amount of solute that can be dispersed in the solvent depends on the temperature of the medium.
- A solution is a homogenous mixture where the solute particles are uniformly distributed throughout the solvent. Thus, each volume of solvent in the solution has the same concentration of solute.
- The solvent and solute in a solution exist in the single-phase forming solute-solvent complexes, also known as solvates.
- During the formation of a solution, multiple solvent particles surround the solute particle where heat energy is transferred from solvent to the solute, creating a more thermodynamically stable condition.
- The polarity of the solvent particle is crucial to determine the solubility of any solute in the solvent.
- Water is a polar compound that is also considered as a universal solvent that dissolves a large number of solute particles.
- Most solvents are classified into two categories as polar and non-polar solvents. Mercury forms a particular type of solvent called amalgams.
- The boiling point of the solvent is lower than that of solute.
- Examples of the solvent include water, hydrocarbons, alcohols, esters, etc.
Key Differences (Solute vs Solvent)
Basis for Comparison
|Definition||A solute is a substance that is added to a solvent to form a solution.||A solvent is a substance that dissolves the solute particles during the formation of a solution.|
|Phase||The solute is the dispersed phase of a solution.||The solvent is the medium phase of a solution that disperses solute particles.|
|Quantity||The quantity of solute is less than the solvent in a solution.||The quantity of solvent is more than solute in a solution.|
|Physical state||Solute might exist in a solid, liquid, or gaseous state.||Most solvents are in a liquid state, but some solvents might exist in the gaseous state.|
|State of solution||The solution might or might not in the state of the solute.||The solution is almost definitely in the state of the solvent.|
|Boiling point||Solute has a higher boiling point than the solvent.||Solvents have a lower boiling point than solute.|
|Solubility||The solubility of a solute depends on the properties of solute like the surface area and size of molecules.||Solubility depends on the properties of solvent like its polarity.|
|Heat transfer||In a solution, heat is transferred to the solute.||In a solution, heat is transferred from the solvent.|
|Examples||Examples of solute include salt in seawater, protons in the cytosol, sugar in tea, etc.||Examples of the solvent include water, hydrocarbons, alcohols, esters, etc.|
Examples of Solutes
Salt in seawater
- Salt is the solute, and water is the solvent in seawater.
- The salt, NaCl, is an ionic compound where the negatively charged chloride ion is attracted by the slightly positively charged hydrogen atom of water. A similar attraction occurs between sodium and oxygen atoms.
- This attraction causes the breakdown of NaCl into smaller particles which are then dispersed throughout the water.
- The range of solubility and time period depends on the surface area of the solute particle.
- Thus, coarse salts dissolve to a lesser extent than finer salts with a larger surface area.
- Once all the salt is dissolved, no salt crystals will be visible in the solution.
Read Also: Lewis Acids and Bases
Protons in the cytosol
- Protons or H+ are present in the cytoplasm of a cell that helps to maintain the pH of the solution.
- These protons are attracted by the oxygen atom of water molecules and thus play an essential role in the transmembrane transport of molecules.
- The membranes are permeable to water but not to the protons. As a result water molecules can freely across the membrane.
- Due to the attraction between the water molecules and protons, a proton motive force is created.
- The proton motive force can then be used for the transport of a variety of substances across the membrane.
Examples of Solvents
- Water is considered a universal solvent as it dissolves a wide variety of solute particles.
- Water forms the basis of many biological solutions that carries important particles and moves them throughout the body.
- Water is a polar solvent where the oxygen atom carries a partial negative charge, and the hydrogen atom carries a partial positive charge.
- The polarity of water molecules makes it very compatible with several solutes molecules.
- One of the most important examples of water as a solvent is the seawater. Seawater carries large quantities of salt dissolved in water.
- Oil also acts as a solvent in cooking where it prevents the sticking of polar and on polar solutes to the pan.
- The hot oil creates a solution where other foods can be cooked.
- The oil carries some solute which can then be added to the food being cooked.
- Oil is an organic compound and an example of a non-polar solvent, that allows the dispersal of non-polar solute molecules throughout the solution.
- When compared to other petroleum solvents, vegetable oil is considered a non-volatile organic compound (VOC) that have high dissolving power and flash point, together with low toxicity and less environmental impact.
Video Animation: Solute and Solvent (By Stile Education)
Yara-Varón, E., Li, Y., Balcells, M., Canela-Garayoa, R., Fabiano-Tixier, A. S., & Chemat, F. (2017). Vegetable Oils as Alternative Solvents for Green Oleo-Extraction, Purification, and Formulation of Food and Natural Products. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 22(9), 1474. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules22091474.
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