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Solutions and Mixtures

Homogeneuos vs Heterogeneous Before we dive into solutions, let's separate solutions from other types of mixtures. Solutions are groups of molecules that are mixed up in a completely even distribution. Hmmm. Not the easiest way to say it. Scientists say that solutions are homogenous systems. Everything in a solution is evenly spread out and mixed together. Other types of mixtures can have a little more of one thing (higher concentration) on one side of the liquid when compared to the other side. Let's compare sugar in water (H2O) to sand in water. Sugar dissolves and is spread throughout the glass of water. The sand sinks to the bottom. The sugar-water could be considered a solution. The sand-water combination is a mixture.

Can anything be in a Solution?

Pretty much. Solutions can be solids dissolved in liquids. When you work with chemistry or even cook in your kitchen, you will usually be dissolving solids into liquids. Solutions could also be gases dissolved in liquids (such as carbonated water). There can also be gases in other gases, and liquids in liquids. If you mix things up and they stay at an even distribution, it is a solution. You probably won't find people making solid-solid solutions. They usually start off as solid/gas/liquid-liquid solutions and then harden at room temperature. Alloys with all types of metals are good examples of a solid solution at room temperature.

SOLUTION EXAMPLE
Gas-Gas
Gas-Liquid
Gas-Solid
Liquid-Liquid
Liquid-Solid
Solid-Solid
Air
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in Soda
Hydrogen (H2) in Palladium (Pd) Metal
Gasoline
Dental Fillings
Metal Alloys Such as Sterling Silver


Mixing Solute and Solvent A simple solution is basically two substances that are going to be combined. One of them is called the solute. A solute is the substance to be dissolved (sugar). The other is a solvent. The solvent is the one doing the dissolving (water). As a rule of thumb, there is usually more solvent than solute. Be patient with the next sentence as we put it all together. The amount of solute that can be dissolved by the solvent is defined as solubility. That's a lot of "sol" words.

Science has special names for everything. There are names for the different types of homogenous mixtures. Solutions refer to these mixtures when the particles are very small. You may hear about colloids. Colloids are just solutions with much bigger particles. Colloids are usually foggy or milky when you look at them. In fact, milk is an emulsified colloid. You may also hear about colloids if you study soil. Milk is an organic colloid, while soils can be made up of inorganic colloids, such as clay.

More on Solutions in Part II...

Related Activities

Matter Quiz General Matter Quiz
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Solutions Quiz Solutions Quiz
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- Overview
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- Phase Change I
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- BE Condensate
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- Mixtures II
> Solutions I
- Solutions II
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