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Solubility is a measure of how much a gas, liquid, or solid becomes dissolved in a liquid.

from http://www.solubilityofthings.com/basics

SOLUBILITY is an ability of a substance to dissolve.

The substance being dissolved is called a solute

The substance in which the solute is dissolved is called a solvent.

A mixture of solute and solvent is called a solution.

Example When we insert sugar into water it will dissolve. In this process:

  • sugar is the solute
  • water is the solvent

One of the characteristics of table sugar is its solubility in water

That was a definition of solubility as it is used in a common language. Now let’s see solubility as chemists understand it:

Chemist’s understanding of Solubility

A chemist understands solubility as a measure. A chemist would say that:

SOLUBILITY is understood as a maximum amount of solute that dissolves in a solvent at so called equilibrium. An equilibrium is a state where reactants and products reach a balance – no more solute can be dissolved in the solvent in the set conditions (temperature, pressure).

Such a solution is called a saturated solution.

Example: If you take one litre of water and you start dissolving table salt in it (chemical formula of salt is NaCl) and:

  • temperature of water is 25oC
  • pressure is 1 ATM (Atmosphere – standard pressure in the open air on Earth)

You should be able to dissolve exactly 357.00 grams and not a gram more. The rest of the salt will stay on the bottom as residue and will not dissolve.

Solubility of salt in water is therefore 357.00g/L.

When this amount of salt is dissolved the solution reaches its equilibrium.

Every chemical substance which dissolves in water has a fixed solubility. If it does not dissolve – its solubility is zero.

Many of these solubilities have been measured and special charts are produced displaying solubility of many substances at once.

Here are two cases where the idea of solubility is not applicable:

Miscible and immiscible substances

Some substances, like water and alcohol, can be mixed together and create a homogenous phase in any proportion. A solubility measure cannot be applied to such two substances. Such substances are called miscible.

If two substances cannot be mixed together (like water and oil), they are immiscible.


– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

* Like dissolves like

*Water as a universal solvent

*Electrolytes are compounds that are pulled apart by the charges on water.

* Surface tensions

* soaps and surfactants

* Okay, water isn’t really a universal solvent. Acetone works for some chemicals.

* Measuring the concentration of a solution

* Mass Percent (w/w)

* Mass/Volume percent (% w/v) format.

* Volume percent (%v/v). On this bottle it says, “Alcohol 10% by vol.”

* supersaturated solutions


Lesson on Water, Solubility, Concentration, from Ken Costello

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