Solutions and Solubility
Solutions are all around us. We encounter solutions almost daily in our lives. Some examples of common solutions are lemonade, prepared instant coffee, carbonated water and honey. But what is a solution? And what does solubility have do with it? Below we explore both solutions and solubility individually.
The scientific term "solution" can be defined as a mixture of one substance dissolved in another so that the properties become the same throughout. Every solution is made up of a solute and a solvent. The solute is the substance that becomes dissolved. The solvent is the substance that the solute is added to, which actually does the dissolving. Take the example of instant coffee. The coffee granules act as the solute, and the hot water you add them to acts as the solvent. When mixed together, the substance becomes a solution.
Chemists define solubility as the maximum amount of solute that dissolves in a solvent at equilibrium, which is the state at which reactants and products reach a balance. Once the maximum amount of solute that will dissolve under the specific necessary conditions is added to solvent, not a single ounce more can be added and still dissolve. The result is generally that the extra amount will sit at the bottom, as is the case with salt being dissolved in water past its point of solubility.