Environmental Chemistry

Why does water dissolves so many things?

Water as a universal solvent?

Why is water the universal solvent?

Why is water the universal solvent?

Why does water dissolve so many different chemicals?

Water is known as the universal solvent . Here is an explanation of why water is called the universal solvent and what are the properties that make it possible to dissolve other substances.

Chemistry makes water a great solvent

Water is called the universal solvent because more substances dissolve in water than in any other chemical. This has to do with the polarity of each molecule of water. The hydrogen side of each molecule of water (H 2 O) carries a slight positive electrical charge, while the oxygen side carries a slight negative electrical charge.

This helps the water to dissociate the ionic compounds into their positive and negative ions. The positive part of an ionic compound is attracted to the oxygen side of the water while the negative part of the compound is attracted to the hydrogen side of the water.

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Why salt dissolves in water

For example, consider what happens when salt dissolves in water. The salt is sodium chloride, NaCl. The sodium part of the compounds carries a positive charge, while the chlorine part carries a negative charge. The two ions are connected by an ionic bond . On the other hand, hydrogen and oxygen in water are connected by covalent bonds . The hydrogen and oxygen atoms from different water molecules are also connected by hydrogen bonds. When the salt is mixed with water, the water molecules orient themselves so that the negatively charged oxygen anions face the sodium ion, whereas the positively charged hydrogen cations are confronted with the chloride ion.

Although the ionic bonds are strong, the net effect of the polarity of all water molecules is sufficient to separate the sodium and chlorine atoms. Once the salt is separated, its ions are evenly distributed, forming a homogeneous solution.

If a lot of salt is mixed with water, not everything will dissolve.

In this situation, the dissolution continues until there are too many sodium and chlorine ions in the mixture for the water to gain water from the tug with undissolved salt. Basically, the ions hinder and prevent the water molecules from completely surrounding the sodium chloride compound. Increasing the temperature increases the kinetic energy of the particles, increasing the amount of salt that can be dissolved in the water.

Water does not dissolve everything

Despite its name of “universal solvent”, there are many compounds that will not dissolve or dissolve well. If the attraction is high between the charged ions in a compound, then the solubility will be low. For example, most of the hydroxide has low solubility in water. In addition, non-polar molecules do not dissolve very well in water, including many organic compounds, such as fats and waxes.

In summary, water is called the universal solvent because it dissolves the most substances, not because it actually dissolves each compound.

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