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Introduction to Solutions

A solution is a particular type of mixture. Mixtures in chemistry are combinations of

different substances where each substance retains its chemical properties. Generally,
mixtures can be separated by non-chemical means such as filtration, heating, or
A solution is a homogeneous mixture, but that's not the full definition. Homogeneous
means that the mixture is the same all the way through. You could take two samesized samples: one from the bottom and one from the top and they would be identical.
Homogeneous mixtures do not settle out if left to sit undisturbed, whereas a
heterogeneous mixture would. Blood is a good example of a heterogeneous mixture.
A solution is a homogeneous mixture where all particles exist as individual molecules
or ions. This is the definition of a solution.
By the way, there are homogeneous mixtures where the particle size is much larger
than individual molecules. However, the particle size is so small that the mixture
never settles out. Terms such as colloid, sol, and gel are used to identify these
A solution has two components: the solute and the solvent.
The solvent is the substance in greater amount.
It is usually a liquid, although it does not have to be. It is usually water, but it does not
have to be.
The solute is the substance in lesser amount.
It is usually a solid, although it does not have to be..
The word concentration refers to how much solute is dissolved.
Dilute means that only a little solute is dissolved and concentrated means a lot is

General Rules of Solubility

The dividing line between soluble and insoluble is 0.1-molar at 25 C.

Any substance that can form 0.1 M or more concentrated is soluble. Any substance
that fails to reach 0.1 M is defined to be insoluble.
This value was picked with a purpose. VERY FEW substances have their maximum
solubility near to 0.1 M. Almost every substance of any importance in chemistry is
either much MORE soluble or much LESS soluble.
In the past, some teachers would have a third category: slightly soluble. For the most
part, that category has been cast aside.

Solubility rules that apply to water solution:

(1) All alkali metal (lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium, and cesium) and
ammonium compounds are soluble.
(2) All acetate, perchlorate, chlorate, and nitrate compounds are soluble.
(3) Silver, lead, and mercury(I) compounds are insoluble.
(4) Chlorides, bromides, and iodides are soluble
(5) Carbonates, hydroxides, oxides, phosphates, silicates, and sulfides are insoluble.
(6) Sulfates are soluble except for calcium and barium.
These rules are to be applied in the order given. For example, PbSO 4 is insoluble
because rule 3 comes before rule 6. In like manner, AgCl is insoluble because rule 3
(the smaller) takes precedence over rule 4 (the larger).
Please be aware that these rules are guidelines only. For example, there are some
alkali metal compounds that are insoluble. However, these are rather exotic
compounds and can be safely ignored at an introductory level.