More on Solutions, Solutes and Solvents


A solution is formed when a solute dissolves into a suitable solvent.

A solution is defined as a mixture of two or more substances in the same state of matter, the solute cannot be separated out by filtration (in other words it has dissolved into the solution), it is transparent and the solute is spread out equally into the solvent.

When table salt forms a solution with water, the salt particles break up and spread out into the spaces between the water particles to become salty water. 

This is a solution because: 

  1. You cannot see the salt particles

  2. The solution is transparent

  3. You cannot filter out the salt

  4. The salt particles become liquid – the same state as the solvent.


When you make a solution, and there is no chemical change in the process, the mass will increase. The mass of a solution is the mass of the solvent plus the mass of the solute.


A can of fizzy drink is also a solution, but why does it bubble?

The bubbles are carbon dioxide gas which were dissolved into the solvent during manufacturing.  So, the carbon dioxide becomes part of the liquid and when the can is openedthey change back into a gas.

Suitable and Unsuitable solvents:

Not all solutes will dissolve in all solvents, which is a good thing really because if sand was soluble in water we would have no beaches.

Bicarbonate of Soda is insoluble in water.  But it will dissolve in vinegar (acetic acid) to form a solution.  Water is an unsuitable solvent for bicarbonate of soda but vinegar is a suitable solvent.

Nail polish will not dissolve in water.  But nail polish will dissolve in nail polish remover which is made of a solvent called acetone. 

Acetone is also a suitable solvent for super glue – if you every manage to glue your fingers together!

Ethanol is also a solvent which will dissolve permanent marker ink. 

Lab acids called hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid and nitric acids are also solvents.

Magnesium will not dissolve in water, but it will dissolve in hydrochloric acid.

Marble and limestone used to make sculptures and grave stones are insoluble in water, but soluble in acids.


Solvents do not have to be liquids and solutes do not have to be solids.

Gases and gases make solutions

Gases and liquids make solutions

Solids and liquids make solutions

Liquids and liquids make solutions


Remember: when you are making a solution, there is always more solvent than solute.

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All images sourced from unless otherwise stated