Solubility is the property of a solid, liquid or gaseous chemical substance called solute to dissolve in a solid, liquid or gaseous solvent. The solubility of a substance fundamentally depends on the physical and chemical properties of the solute and solvent as well as on temperature, pressure and presence of other chemicals (including changes to the pH) of the solution. The extent of the solubility of a substance in a specific solvent is measured as the saturation concentration, where adding more solute does not increase the concentration of the solution and begins to precipitate the excess amount of solute.

Insolubility is the inability to dissolve in a solid, liquid or gaseous solvent.

Most often, the solvent is a liquid, which can be a pure substance or a mixture. One may also speak of solid solution, but rarely of solution in a gas (see vapor–liquid equilibrium instead).

Under certain conditions, the equilibrium solubility can be exceeded to give a so-called supersaturated solution, which is metastable.[1] Metastability of crystals can also lead to apparent differences in the amount of a chemical that dissolves depending on its crystalline form or particle size. A supersaturated solution generally crystallises when 'seed' crystals are introduced and rapid equilibration occurs. Phenylsalicylate is one such simple observable substance when fully melted and then cooled below its fusion point.

Solubility is not to be confused with the ability to dissolve a substance, because the solution might also occur because of a chemical reaction. For example, zinc dissolves (with effervescence) in hydrochloric acid as a result of a chemical reaction releasing hydrogen gas in a displacement reaction. The zinc ions are soluble in the acid.

The solubility of a substance is an entirely different property from the rate of solution, which is how fast it dissolves. The smaller a particle is, the faster it dissolves although there are many factors to add to this generalization.

Crucially solubility applies to all areas of chemistry, geochemistry, inorganic, physical, organic and biochemistry. In all cases it will depend on the physical conditions (temperature, pressure and concentration) and the enthalpy and entropy directly relating to the solvents and solutes concerned. By far the most common solvent in chemistry is water which is a solvent for most ionic compounds as well as a wide range of organic substances. This is a crucial factor in acidity and alkalinity and much environmental and geochemical work.

Chemical precipitation diagram
Example for a dissolved solid (left)
Crystals ammonium sulfate
Formation of crystals in a 4.2 M ammonium sulfate solution. The solution was initially prepared at 20 °C and then stored for 2 days at 4 °C.

IUPAC definition

According to the IUPAC definition,[2] solubility is the analytical composition of a saturated solution expressed as a proportion of a designated solute in a designated solvent. Solubility may be stated in various units of concentration such as molarity, molality, mole fraction, mole ratio, mass (solute) per volume (solvent) and other units.

Qualifiers used to describe extent of solubility

The extent of solubility ranges widely, from infinitely soluble (without limit) (fully miscible[3]) such as ethanol in water, to poorly soluble, such as silver chloride in water. The term insoluble is often applied to poorly or very poorly soluble compounds. A number of other descriptive terms are also used to qualify the extent of solubility for a given application. For example, U.S. Pharmacopoeia gives the following terms:

Term Mass parts of solvent required to dissolve 1 mass part of solute[4]
Very soluble <1
Freely soluble 1 to 10
Soluble 10 to 30
Sparingly soluble 30 to 100
Slightly soluble 100 to 1000
Very slightly soluble 1000 to 10,000
Practically insoluble or insoluble ≥ 10,000

The thresholds to describe something as insoluble, or similar terms, may depend on the application. For example, one source states that substances are described as "insoluble" when their solubility is less than 0.1 g per 100 mL of solvent.[5]

Molecular view

Solubility occurs under dynamic equilibrium, which means that solubility results from the simultaneous and opposing processes of dissolution and phase joining (e.g. precipitation of solids). The solubility equilibrium occurs when the two processes proceed at a constant rate.

The term solubility is also used in some fields where the solute is altered by solvolysis. For example, many metals and their oxides are said to be "soluble in hydrochloric acid", although in fact the aqueous acid irreversibly degrades the solid to give soluble products. It is also true that most ionic solids are dissolved by polar solvents, but such processes are reversible. In those cases where the solute is not recovered upon evaporation of the solvent, the process is referred to as solvolysis. The thermodynamic concept of solubility does not apply straightforwardly to solvolysis.

When a solute dissolves, it may form several species in the solution. For example, an aqueous suspension of ferrous hydroxide, Fe(OH)
, will contain the series [Fe(H
x(OH)x](2x)+ as well as other species. Furthermore, the solubility of ferrous hydroxide and the composition of its soluble components depend on pH. In general, solubility in the solvent phase can be given only for a specific solute that is thermodynamically stable, and the value of the solubility will include all the species in the solution (in the example above, all the iron-containing complexes).

Factors affecting solubility

Solubility is defined for specific phases. For example, the solubility of aragonite and calcite in water are expected to differ, even though they are both polymorphs of calcium carbonate and have the same chemical formula.

The solubility of one substance in another is determined by the balance of intermolecular forces between the solvent and solute, and the entropy change that accompanies the solvation. Factors such as temperature and pressure will alter this balance, thus changing the solubility.

Solubility may also strongly depend on the presence of other species dissolved in the solvent, for example, complex-forming anions (ligands) in liquids. Solubility will also depend on the excess or deficiency of a common ion in the solution, a phenomenon known as the common-ion effect. To a lesser extent, solubility will depend on the ionic strength of solutions. The last two effects can be quantified using the equation for solubility equilibrium.

For a solid that dissolves in a redox reaction, solubility is expected to depend on the potential (within the range of potentials under which the solid remains the thermodynamically stable phase). For example, solubility of gold in high-temperature water is observed to be almost an order of magnitude higher (i.e. about ten times higher) when the redox potential is controlled using a highly oxidizing Fe3O4-Fe2O3 redox buffer than with a moderately oxidizing Ni-NiO buffer.[6]


Solubility (metastable, at concentrations approaching saturation) also depends on the physical size of the crystal or droplet of solute (or, strictly speaking, on the specific surface area or molar surface area of the solute).[7] For quantification, see the equation in the article on solubility equilibrium. For highly defective crystals, solubility may increase with the increasing degree of disorder. Both of these effects occur because of the dependence of solubility constant on the Gibbs energy of the crystal. The last two effects, although often difficult to measure, are of practical importance. For example, they provide the driving force for precipitate aging (the crystal size spontaneously increasing with time).


The solubility of a given solute in a given solvent typically depends on temperature. Depending on the nature of the solute the solubility may increase or decrease with temperature. For most solids and liquids, their solubility increases with temperature.[8] In liquid water at high temperatures, (e.g. that approaching the critical temperature), the solubility of ionic solutes tends to decrease due to the change of properties and structure of liquid water; the lower dielectric constant results in a less polar solvent.

Gaseous solutes exhibit more complex behavior with temperature. As the temperature is raised, gases usually become less soluble in water (to minimum, which is below 120 °C for most permanent gases[9]), but more soluble in organic solvents.[8]

The chart shows solubility curves for some typical solid inorganic salts (temperature is in degrees Celsius i.e. kelvins minus 273).[10] Many salts behave like barium nitrate and disodium hydrogen arsenate, and show a large increase in solubility with temperature. Some solutes (e.g. sodium chloride in water) exhibit solubility that is fairly independent of temperature. A few, such as calcium sulfate (gypsum) and cerium(III) sulfate, become less soluble in water as temperature increases.[11] This is also the case for calcium hydroxide (portlandite), whose solubility at 70 °C is about half of its value at 25 °C. The dissolution of calcium hydroxide in water is also an exothermic process and obeys Le Chatelier's principle. A lowering of temperature will thus favor the dissolution heat elimination and increases the equilibrium constant of dissolution of Ca(OH)2, and so increase its solubility at low temperature. This temperature dependence is sometimes referred to as "retrograde" or "inverse" solubility. Occasionally, a more complex pattern is observed, as with sodium sulfate, where the less soluble decahydrate crystal loses water of crystallization at 32 °C to form a more soluble anhydrous phase.

Temperature dependence solublity of solid in liquid water high temperature

The solubility of organic compounds nearly always increases with temperature. The technique of recrystallization, used for purification of solids, depends on a solute's different solubilities in hot and cold solvent. A few exceptions exist, such as certain cyclodextrins.[12]


For condensed phases (solids and liquids), the pressure dependence of solubility is typically weak and usually neglected in practice. Assuming an ideal solution, the dependence can be quantified as:

where the index i iterates the components, Ni is the mole fraction of the ith component in the solution, P is the pressure, the index T refers to constant temperature, Vi,aq is the partial molar volume of the ith component in the solution, Vi,cr is the partial molar volume of the ith component in the dissolving solid, and R is the universal gas constant.[13]

The pressure dependence of solubility does occasionally have practical significance. For example, precipitation fouling of oil fields and wells by calcium sulfate (which decreases its solubility with decreasing pressure) can result in decreased productivity with time.

Solubility of gases

Henry's law is used to quantify the solubility of gases in solvents. The solubility of a gas in a solvent is directly proportional to the partial pressure of that gas above the solvent. This relationship is written as:

where kH is a temperature-dependent constant (for example, 769.2 L·atm/mol for dioxygen (O2) in water at 298 K), p is the partial pressure (atm), and c is the concentration of the dissolved gas in the liquid (mol/L).

The solubility of gases is sometimes also quantified using Bunsen solubility coefficient.

In the presence of small bubbles, the solubility of the gas does not depend on the bubble radius in any other way than through the effect of the radius on pressure (i.e. the solubility of gas in the liquid in contact with small bubbles is increased due to pressure increase by Δp = 2γ/r; see Young–Laplace equation).[14]

Henry's law is valid for gases that do not undergo speciation on dissolution. Sieverts' law shows a case when this assumption does not hold.

The carbon dioxide solubility in seawater is also affected by temperature and by the carbonate buffer. The decrease of solubility of carbon dioxide in seawater when temperature increases is also an important retroaction factor (positive feedback) exacerbating past and future climate changes as observed in ice cores from the Vostok site in Antarctica. At the geological time scale, because of the Milankovich cycles, when the astronomical parameters of the Earth orbit and its rotation axis progressively change and modify the solar irradiance at the Earth surface, temperature starts to increase. When a deglaciation period is initiated, the progressive warming of the oceans releases CO2 in the atmosphere because of its lower solubility in warmer sea water. On its turn, higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere increase the greenhouse effect and carbon dioxide acts as an amplifier of the general warming.


A popular aphorism used for predicting solubility is "like dissolves like" also expressed in the Latin language as "Similia similibus solventur".[15] This statement indicates that a solute will dissolve best in a solvent that has a similar chemical structure to itself. This view is simplistic, but it is a useful rule of thumb. The overall solvation capacity of a solvent depends primarily on its polarity.[a] For example, a very polar (hydrophilic) solute such as urea is very soluble in highly polar water, less soluble in fairly polar methanol, and practically insoluble in non-polar solvents such as benzene. In contrast, a non-polar or lipophilic solute such as naphthalene is insoluble in water, fairly soluble in methanol, and highly soluble in non-polar benzene.[16]

Sodium chloride dissolution
Dissolution of sodium chloride in water.

In even more simple terms a simple ionic compound (with positive and negative ions) such as sodium chloride (common salt) is easily soluble in a highly polar solvent (with some separation of positive (δ+) and negative (δ-) charges in the covalent molecule) such as water, as thus the sea is salty as it accumulates dissolved salts since early geological ages.

The solubility is favored by entropy of mixingS) and depends on enthalpy of dissolutionH) and the hydrophobic effect. The free energy of dissolution (Gibbs energy) depends on temperature and is given by the relationship: ΔG = ΔH – TΔS.

Chemists often exploit differences in solubilities to separate and purify compounds from reaction mixtures, using the technique of liquid-liquid extraction. This applies in vast areas of chemistry from drug synthesis to spent nuclear fuel reprocessing.

Rate of dissolution

Dissolution is not an instantaneous process. The rate of solubilization (in kg/s) is related to the solubility product and the surface area of the material. The speed at which a solid dissolves may depend on its crystallinity or lack thereof in the case of amorphous solids and the surface area (crystallite size) and the presence of polymorphism. Many practical systems illustrate this effect, for example in designing methods for controlled drug delivery. In some cases, solubility equilibria can take a long time to establish (hours, days, months, or many years; depending on the nature of the solute and other factors).

The rate of dissolution can be often expressed by the Noyes–Whitney equation or the Nernst and Brunner equation[17] of the form:


m = mass of dissolved material
t = time
A = surface area of the interface between the dissolving substance and the solvent
D = diffusion coefficient
d = thickness of the boundary layer of the solvent at the surface of the dissolving substance
Cs = mass concentration of the substance on the surface
Cb = mass concentration of the substance in the bulk of the solvent

For dissolution limited by diffusion (or mass transfer if mixing is present), Cs is equal to the solubility of the substance. When the dissolution rate of a pure substance is normalized to the surface area of the solid (which usually changes with time during the dissolution process), then it is expressed in kg/m2s and referred to as "intrinsic dissolution rate". The intrinsic dissolution rate is defined by the United States Pharmacopeia.

Dissolution rates vary by orders of magnitude between different systems. Typically, very low dissolution rates parallel low solubilities, and substances with high solubilities exhibit high dissolution rates, as suggested by the Noyes-Whitney equation.

Quantification of solubility

Solubility is commonly expressed as a concentration; for example, as g of solute per kg of solvent, g per dL (100mL) of solvent, molarity, molality, mole fraction, etc. The maximum equilibrium amount of solute that can dissolve per amount of solvent is the solubility of that solute in that solvent under the specified conditions. The advantage of expressing solubility in this manner is its simplicity, while the disadvantage is that it can strongly depend on the presence of other species in the solvent (for example, the common ion effect).

Solubility constants are used to describe saturated solutions of ionic compounds of relatively low solubility (see solubility equilibrium). The solubility constant is a special case of an equilibrium constant. It describes the balance between dissolved ions from the salt and undissolved salt. The solubility constant is also "applicable" (i.e. useful) to precipitation, the reverse of the dissolving reaction. As with other equilibrium constants, temperature can affect the numerical value of solubility constant. The solubility constant is not as simple as solubility, however the value of this constant is generally independent of the presence of other species in the solvent.

The Flory–Huggins solution theory is a theoretical model describing the solubility of polymers. The Hansen solubility parameters and the Hildebrand solubility parameters are empirical methods for the prediction of solubility. It is also possible to predict solubility from other physical constants such as the enthalpy of fusion.

The partition coefficient (Log P) is a measure of differential solubility of a compound in a hydrophobic solvent (1-octanol) and a hydrophilic solvent (water). The logarithm of these two values enables compounds to be ranked in terms of hydrophilicity (or hydrophobicity).

The energy change associated with dissolving is usually given per mole of solute as the enthalpy of solution.


Solubility is of fundamental importance in a large number of scientific disciplines and practical applications, ranging from ore processing and nuclear reprocessing to the use of medicines, and the transport of pollutants.

Solubility is often said to be one of the "characteristic properties of a substance", which means that solubility is commonly used to describe the substance, to indicate a substance's polarity, to help to distinguish it from other substances, and as a guide to applications of the substance. For example, indigo is described as "insoluble in water, alcohol, or ether but soluble in chloroform, nitrobenzene, or concentrated sulfuric acid".

Solubility of a substance is useful when separating mixtures. For example, a mixture of salt (sodium chloride) and silica may be separated by dissolving the salt in water, and filtering off the undissolved silica. The synthesis of chemical compounds, by the milligram in a laboratory, or by the ton in industry, both make use of the relative solubilities of the desired product, as well as unreacted starting materials, byproducts, and side products to achieve separation.

Another example of this is the synthesis of benzoic acid from phenylmagnesium bromide and dry ice. Benzoic acid is more soluble in an organic solvent such as dichloromethane or diethyl ether, and when shaken with this organic solvent in a separatory funnel, will preferentially dissolve in the organic layer. The other reaction products, including the magnesium bromide, will remain in the aqueous layer, clearly showing that separation based on solubility is achieved. This process, known as liquid–liquid extraction, is an important technique in synthetic chemistry. Recycling is used to ensure maximum extraction.

Differential solubility

In flowing systems, differences in solubility often determine the dissolution-precipitation driven transport of species. This happens when different parts of the system experience different conditions. Even slightly different conditions can result in significant effects, given sufficient time.

For example, relatively low solubility compounds are found to be soluble in more extreme environments, resulting in geochemical and geological effects of the activity of hydrothermal fluids in the Earth's crust. These are often the source of high quality economic mineral deposits and precious or semi-precious gems. In the same way, compounds with low solubility will dissolve over extended time (geological time), resulting in significant effects such as extensive cave systems or Karstic land surfaces.

Solubility of ionic compounds in water

Some ionic compounds (salts) dissolve in water, which arises because of the attraction between positive and negative charges (see: solvation). For example, the salt's positive ions (e.g. Ag+) attract the partially negative oxygens in H2O. Likewise, the salt's negative ions (e.g. Cl) attract the partially positive hydrogens in H2O. Note: oxygen is partially negative because it is more electronegative than hydrogen, and vice versa (see: chemical polarity).

AgCl(s) ⇌ Ag+(aq) + Cl(aq)

However, there is a limit to how much salt can be dissolved in a given volume of water. This amount is given by the solubility product, Ksp. This value depends on the type of salt (AgCl vs. NaCl, for example), temperature, and the common ion effect.

One can calculate the amount of AgCl that will dissolve in 1 liter of water, some algebra is required.

Ksp = [Ag+] × [Cl] (definition of solubility product)
Ksp = 1.8 × 10−10 (from a table of solubility products)

[Ag+] = [Cl], in the absence of other silver or chloride salts,

[Ag+]2 = 1.8 × 10−10
[Ag+] = 1.34 × 10−5

The result: 1 liter of water can dissolve 1.34 × 10−5 moles of AgCl(s) at room temperature. Compared with other types of salts, AgCl is poorly soluble in water. In contrast, table salt (NaCl) has a higher Ksp and is, therefore, more soluble.

Soluble Insoluble[18]
Group I (expect lithium phosphate) and NH4+ compounds Carbonates (Except Group I, NH4+ and uranyl compounds)
Nitrates Sulfites (Except Group I and NH4+ compounds)
Acetates (ethanoates) (Except Ag+ compounds) Phosphates (Except Group I (except for Li+) and NH4+ compounds)
Chlorides (chlorates and perchlorates), bromides and iodides (Except Ag+, Pb2+, Cu+ and Hg22+) Hydroxides and oxides (Except Group I, NH4+, Ba2+, Sr2+ and Tl+)
Sulfates (Except Ag+, Pb2+, Ba2+, Sr2+ and Ca2+) Sulfides (Except Group I, Group II and NH4+ compounds)

Solubility of organic compounds

The principle outlined above under polarity, that like dissolves like, is the usual guide to solubility with organic systems. For example, petroleum jelly will dissolve in gasoline because both petroleum jelly and gasoline are non-polar hydrocarbons. It will not, on the other hand, dissolve in ethyl alcohol or water, since the polarity of these solvents is too high. Sugar will not dissolve in gasoline, since sugar is too polar in comparison with gasoline. A mixture of gasoline and sugar can therefore be separated by filtration or extraction with water.

Solid solution

This term is often used in the field of metallurgy to refer to the extent that an alloying element will dissolve into the base metal without forming a separate phase. The solvus or solubility line (or curve) is the line (or lines) on a phase diagram that give the limits of solute addition. That is, the lines show the maximum amount of a component that can be added to another component and still be in solid solution. In the solid's crystalline structure, the 'solute' element can either take the place of the matrix within the lattice (a substitutional position; for example, chromium in iron) or take a place in a space between the lattice points (an interstitial position; for example, carbon in iron).

In microelectronic fabrication, solid solubility refers to the maximum concentration of impurities one can place into the substrate.

Incongruent dissolution

Many substances dissolve congruently (i.e. the composition of the solid and the dissolved solute stoichiometrically match). However, some substances may dissolve incongruently, whereby the composition of the solute in solution does not match that of the solid. This solubilization is accompanied by alteration of the "primary solid" and possibly formation of a secondary solid phase. However, in general, some primary solid also remains and a complex solubility equilibrium establishes. For example, dissolution of albite may result in formation of gibbsite.[19]

NaAlSi3O8(s) + H+ + 7H2O ⇌ Na+ + Al(OH)3(s) + 3H4SiO4.

In this case, the solubility of albite is expected to depend on the solid-to-solvent ratio. This kind of solubility is of great importance in geology, where it results in formation of metamorphic rocks.

Solubility prediction

Solubility is a property of interest in many aspects of science, including but not limited to: environmental predictions, biochemistry, pharmacy, drug-design, agrochemical design, and protein ligand binding. Aqueous solubility is of fundamental interest owing to the vital biological and transportation functions played by water.[20][21][22] In addition, to this clear scientific interest in water solubility and solvent effects; accurate predictions of solubility are important industrially. The ability to accurately predict a molecule's solubility represents potentially large financial savings in many chemical product development processes, such as pharmaceuticals.[23] In the pharmaceutical industry, solubility predictions form part of the early stage lead optimisation process of drug candidates. Solubility remains a concern all the way to formulation.[23] A number of methods have been applied to such predictions including quantitative structure–activity relationships (QSAR), quantitative structure–property relationships (QSPR) and data mining. These models provide efficient predictions of solubility and represent the current standard. The draw back such models is that they can lack physical insight. A method founded in physical theory, capable of achieving similar levels of accuracy at an sensible cost, would be a powerful tool scientifically and industrially.[24][25][26][27]

Methods founded in physical theory tend to use thermodynamic cycles, a concept from classical thermodynamics. The two common thermodynamic cycles used involve either the calculation of the free energy of sublimation (solid to gas without going through a liquid state) and the free energy of solvating a gaseous molecule (gas to solution), or the free energy of fusion (solid to a molten phase) and the free energy of mixing (molten to solution). These two process are represented in the following diagrams.

Sublimation sol cycle3
Thermodynamic cycle for calculating solvation via sublimation
Fusion sol cycle3
Thermodynamic cycle for calculating solvation via fusion

These cycles have been used for attempts at first principles predictions (solving using the fundamental physical equations) using physically motivated solvent models,[25] to create parametric equations and QSPR models [28][26] and combinations of the two.[26] The use of these cycles enables the calculation of the solvation free energy indirectly via either gas (in the sublimation cycle) or a melt (fusion cycle). This is helpful as calculating the free energy of solvation directly is extremely difficult. The free energy of solvation can be converted to a solubility value using various formulae, the most general case being shown below, where the numerator is the free energy of solvation, R is the gas constant and T is the temperature in kelvins.[25]

Well known fitted equations for solubility prediction are the general solubility equations. These equations stem from the work of Yalkowsky et al.[29][30] The original formula is given first followed by a revised formula which takes a different assumption of complete miscibility in octanol.[30] These equations are founded on the principles of the fusion cycle.

See also


  1. ^ The solvent polarity is defined as its solvation power according to Reichardt.


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  20. ^ Skyner, R.; McDonagh, J. L.; Groom, C. R.; van Mourik, T.; Mitchell, J. B. O. (2015). "A Review of Methods for the Calculation of Solution Free Energies and the Modelling of Systems in Solution" (PDF). Phys Chem Chem Phys. 17 (9): 6174–91. Bibcode:2015PCCP...17.6174S. doi:10.1039/C5CP00288E. PMID 25660403.
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  23. ^ a b Abramov, Y. A. (2015). "Major Source of Error in QSPR Prediction of Intrinsic Thermodynamic Solubility of Drugs: Solid vs Nonsolid State Contributions?". Molecular Pharmaceutics. 12 (6): 2126–2141. doi:10.1021/acs.molpharmaceut.5b00119. PMID 25880026.
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Aqueous solution

An aqueous solution is a solution in which the solvent is water. It is mostly shown in chemical equations by appending (aq) to the relevant chemical formula. For example, a solution of table salt, or sodium chloride (NaCl), in water would be represented as Na+(aq) + Cl−(aq). The word aqueous (comes from aqua) means pertaining to, related to, similar to, or dissolved in, water. As water is an excellent solvent and is also naturally abundant, it is a ubiquitous solvent in chemistry. Aqueous solution is water with a pH of 7.0 where the hydrogen ions (H+) and hydroxide ions (OH−) are in Arrhenius balance (10−7).

A non-aqueous solution is a solution in which the solvent is a liquid, but is not water.Substances that are hydrophobic ('water-fearing') often do not dissolve well in water, whereas those that are hydrophilic ('water-friendly') do. An example of a hydrophilic substance is sodium chloride. Acids and bases are aqueous solutions, as part of their Arrhenius definitions.

The ability of a substance to dissolve in water is determined by whether the substance can match or exceed the strong attractive forces that water molecules generate between themselves. If the substance lacks the ability to dissolve in water the molecules form a precipitate.

Reactions in aqueous solutions are usually metathesis reactions. Metathesis reactions are another term for double-displacement; that is, when a cation displaces to form an ionic bond with the other anion. The cation bonded with the latter anion will dissociate and bond with the other anion.

Aqueous solutions that conduct electric current efficiently contain strong electrolytes, while ones that conduct poorly are considered to have weak electrolytes. Those strong electrolytes are substances that are completely ionized in water, whereas the weak electrolytes exhibit only a small degree of ionization in water.

Nonelectrolytes are substances that dissolve in water yet maintain their molecular integrity (do not dissociate into ions). Examples include sugar, urea, glycerol, and methylsulfonylmethane (MSM).

When writing the equations of aqueous reactions, it is essential to determine the precipitate. To determine the precipitate, one must consult a chart of solubility. Soluble compounds are aqueous, while insoluble compounds are the precipitate. There may not always be a precipitate.

When performing calculations regarding the reacting of one or more aqueous solutions, in general one must know the concentration, or molarity, of the aqueous solutions. Solution concentration is given in terms of the form of the solute prior to it dissolving.

Aqueous solutions may contain, especially in alcaline zone or subjected to radiolysis, hydrated atomic hydrogen an hydrated electron.

Calcium carbonate

Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula CaCO3. It is a common substance found in rocks as the minerals calcite and aragonite (most notably as limestone, which is a type of sedimentary rock consisting mainly of calcite) and is the main component of pearls and the shells of marine organisms, snails, and eggs. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime and is created when calcium ions in hard water react with carbonate ions to create limescale. It is medicinally used as a calcium supplement or as an antacid, but excessive consumption can be hazardous.

Calcium hydroxide

Calcium hydroxide (traditionally called slaked lime) is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula Ca(OH)2. It is a colorless crystal or white powder and is produced when quicklime (calcium oxide) is mixed, or slaked with water. It has many names including hydrated lime, caustic lime, builders' lime, slack lime, cal, or pickling lime. Calcium hydroxide is used in many applications, including food preparation, where it has been identified as E number E526. Limewater is the common name for a saturated solution of calcium hydroxide.

Calcium sulfate

Calcium sulfate (or calcium sulphate) is the inorganic compound with the formula CaSO4 and related hydrates. In the form of γ-anhydrite (the anhydrous form), it is used as a desiccant. One particular hydrate is better known as plaster of Paris, and another occurs naturally as the mineral gypsum. It has many uses in industry. All forms are white solids that are poorly soluble in water. Calcium sulfate causes permanent hardness in water.

Carbonate rock

Carbonate rocks are a class of sedimentary rocks composed primarily of carbonate minerals. The two major types are limestone, which is composed of calcite or aragonite (different crystal forms of CaCO3) and dolomite rock, also known as dolostone, which is composed of mineral dolomite (CaMg(CO3)2).

Calcite can be either dissolved by groundwater or precipitated by groundwater, depending on several factors including the water temperature, pH, and dissolved ion concentrations. Calcite exhibits an unusual characteristic called retrograde solubility in which it becomes less soluble in water as the temperature increases.

When conditions are right for precipitation, calcite forms mineral coatings that cement the existing rock grains together or it can fill fractures.

Karst topography and caves develop in carbonate rocks because of their solubility in dilute acidic groundwater. Cooling groundwater or mixing of different groundwaters will also create conditions suitable for cave formation.

Marble is the metamorphic carbonate rock. Rare igneous carbonate rocks exist as intrusive carbonatites and even rarer volcanic carbonate lava.

Carboxylic acid

A carboxylic acid is an organic compound that contains a carboxyl group (C(=O)OH). The general formula of a carboxylic acid is R–COOH, with R referring to the rest of the molecule. Carboxylic acids occur widely. Important examples include the amino acids and acetic acid. Deprotonation of a carboxyl group gives a carboxylate anion.


Crystallization or Crystallisation is the (natural or artificial) process by which a solid forms, where the atoms or molecules are highly organized into a structure known as a crystal. Some of the ways by which crystals form are precipitating from a solution, freezing, or more rarely deposition directly from a gas. Attributes of the resulting crystal depend largely on factors such as temperature, air pressure, and in the case of liquid crystals, time of fluid evaporation.

Crystallization occurs in two major steps. The first is nucleation, the appearance of a crystalline phase from either a supercooled liquid or a supersaturated solvent. The second step is known as crystal growth, which is the increase in the size of particles and leads to a crystal state. An important feature of this step is that loose particles form layers at the crystal's surface lodge themselves into open inconsistencies such as pores, cracks, etc.

The majority of minerals and organic molecules crystallize easily, and the resulting crystals are generally of good quality, i.e. without visible defects. However, larger biochemical particles, like proteins, are often difficult to crystallize. The ease with which molecules will crystallize strongly depends on the intensity of either atomic forces (in the case of mineral substances), intermolecular forces (organic and biochemical substances) or intramolecular forces (biochemical substances).

Crystallization is also a chemical solid–liquid separation technique, in which mass transfer of a solute from the liquid solution to a pure solid crystalline phase occurs. In chemical engineering, crystallization occurs in a crystallizer. Crystallization is therefore related to precipitation, although the result is not amorphous or disordered, but a crystal.

Henry's law

In physical chemistry, Henry's law is a gas law that states that the amount of dissolved gas in a liquid is proportional to its partial pressure above the liquid. The proportionality factor is called Henry's law constant. It was formulated by the English chemist William Henry, who studied the topic in the early 19th century. In his publication about the number of gases absorbed by water, he described the results of his experiments:

..."water takes up, of gas condensed by one, two, or more additional atmospheres, a quantity which, ordinarily compressed, would be equal to twice, thrice, &c. the volume absorbed under the common pressure of the atmosphere."

An example where Henry's law is at play is in the depth-dependent dissolution of oxygen and nitrogen in the blood of underwater divers that changes during decompression, leading to decompression sickness. An everyday example is given by one's experience with carbonated soft drinks, which contain dissolved carbon dioxide. Before opening, the gas above the drink in its container is almost pure carbon dioxide, at a pressure higher than atmospheric pressure. After the bottle is opened, this gas escapes, moving the partial pressure of carbon dioxide above the liquid to be much lower, resulting in degassing as the dissolved carbon dioxide comes out of solution.


Lipophilicity (from Greek λίπος "fat" and φίλος "friendly"), refers to the ability of a chemical compound to dissolve in fats, oils, lipids, and non-polar solvents such as hexane or toluene. Such non-polar solvents are themselves lipophilic (translated as "fat-loving" or "fat-liking"), and the axiom that "like dissolves like" generally holds true. Thus lipophilic substances tend to dissolve in other lipophilic substances, but hydrophilic ("water-loving") substances tend to dissolve in water and other hydrophilic substances.

Lipophilicity, hydrophobicity, and non-polarity may describe the same tendency towards participation in the London dispersion force, as the terms are often used interchangeably. However, the terms "lipophilic" and "hydrophobic" are not synonymous, as can be seen with silicones and fluorocarbons, which are hydrophobic but not lipophilic.

Partition coefficient

In the physical sciences, a partition coefficient (P) or distribution coefficient (D) is the ratio of concentrations of a compound in a mixture of two immiscible phases at equilibrium. This ratio is therefore a measure of the difference in solubility of the compound in these two phases. The partition coefficient generally refers to the concentration ratio of un-ionized species of compound, whereas the distribution coefficient refers to the concentration ratio of all species of the compound (ionized plus un-ionized).In the chemical and pharmaceutical sciences, both phases usually are solvents. Most commonly, one of the solvents is water, while the second is hydrophobic, such as 1-octanol. Hence the partition coefficient measures how hydrophilic ("water-loving") or hydrophobic ("water-fearing") a chemical substance is. Partition coefficients are useful in estimating the distribution of drugs within the body. Hydrophobic drugs with high octanol/water partition coefficients are mainly distributed to hydrophobic areas such as lipid bilayers of cells. Conversely, hydrophilic drugs (low octanol/water partition coefficients) are found primarily in aqueous regions such as blood serum.If one of the solvents is a gas and the other a liquid, a gas/liquid partition coefficient can be determined. For example, the blood/gas partition coefficient of a general anesthetic measures how easily the anesthetic passes from gas to blood. Partition coefficients can also be defined when one of the phases is solid, for instance, when one phase is a molten metal and the second is a solid metal, or when both phases are solids. The partitioning of a substance into a solid results in a solid solution.

Partition coefficients can be measured experimentally in various ways (by shake-flask, HPLC, etc.) or estimated by calculation based on a variety of methods (fragment-based, atom-based, etc.).

Potassium hydroxide

Potassium hydroxide is an inorganic compound with the formula KOH, and is commonly called caustic potash.

Along with sodium hydroxide (NaOH), this colorless solid is a prototypical strong base. It has many industrial and niche applications, most of which exploit its caustic nature and its reactivity toward acids. An estimated 700,000 to 800,000 tonnes were produced in 2005. About 100 times more NaOH than KOH is produced annually. KOH is noteworthy as the precursor to most soft and liquid soaps, as well as numerous potassium-containing chemicals. It is a white solid that is dangerously corrosive. Most commercial samples are ca. 90% pure, the remainder being water and carbonates.

Precipitation (chemistry)

Precipitation is the creation of a solid from a solution. When the reaction occurs in a liquid solution, the solid formed is called the 'precipitate'. The chemical that causes the solid to form is called the 'precipitant'. Without sufficient force of gravity (settling) to bring the solid particles together, the precipitate remains in suspension. After sedimentation, especially when using a centrifuge to press it into a compact mass, the precipitate may be referred to as a 'pellet'. Precipitation can be used as a medium. The precipitate-free liquid remaining above the solid is called the 'supernate' or 'supernatant'. Powders derived from precipitation have also historically been known as 'flowers'. When the solid appears in the form of cellulose fibers which have been through chemical processing, the process is often referred to as regeneration.

Sometimes the formation of a precipitate indicates the occurrence of a chemical reaction. If silver nitrate solution is poured into a solution of sodium chloride, a chemical reaction occurs forming a white precipitate of silver chloride. When potassium iodide solution reacts with lead(II) nitrate solution, a yellow precipitate of lead(II) iodide is formed.

Precipitation may occur if the concentration of a compound exceeds its solubility (such as when mixing solvents or changing their temperature). Precipitation may occur rapidly from a supersaturated solution.

In solids, precipitation occurs if the concentration of one solid is above the solubility limit in the host solid, due to e.g. rapid quenching or

ion implantation, and the temperature is high enough that diffusion can lead to segregation into precipitates. Precipitation in solids is routinely used to synthesize nanoclusters.An important stage of the precipitation process is the onset of nucleation. The creation of a hypothetical solid particle includes the formation of an interface, which requires some energy based on the relative surface energy of the solid and the solution. If this energy is not available, and no suitable nucleation surface is available, supersaturation occurs.

Salt (chemistry)

In chemistry, a salt is a solid chemical compound consisting of an ionic assembly of cations and anions. Salts are composed of related numbers of cations (positively charged ions) and anions (negative ions) so that the product is electrically neutral (without a net charge). These component ions can be inorganic, such as chloride (Cl−), or organic, such as acetate (CH3CO−2); and can be monatomic, such as fluoride (F−), or polyatomic, such as sulfate (SO2−4).

Solubility chart

A solubility chart is a chart with a list of ions and how, when mixed with other ions, they can become precipitates or remain aqueous.

The following chart shows the solubilities of multiple independent and various compounds, in water, at a pressure of 1 atm and at room temperature (approx. 293.15 K). Any box that reads "soluble" results in an aqueous product in which no precipitate has formed, while "slightly soluble" and "insoluble" markings mean that there is a precipitate that will form (usually, this is a solid), however, "slightly soluble" compounds such as calcium sulfate may require heat to form its precipitate. Boxes marked "other" can mean that many different states of products can result. For more detailed information of the exact solubility of the compounds, see the solubility table.

The chemicals have to be exposed to their boiling point to fully dissolve.

Solubility equilibrium

Solubility equilibrium is a type of dynamic equilibrium that exists when a chemical compound in the solid state is in chemical equilibrium with a solution of that compound. The solid may dissolve unchanged, with dissociation or with chemical reaction with another constituent of the solvent, such as acid or alkali. Each type of equilibrium is characterized by a temperature-dependent equilibrium constant. Solubility equilibria are important in pharmaceutical, environmental and many other scenarios.

Solubility table

The table below provides information on the variation of solubility of different substances (mostly inorganic compounds) in water with temperature, at 1 atmosphere pressure. Units of solubility are given in grams per 100 millilitres of water (g/100 ml), unless shown otherwise. The substances are listed in alphabetical order.


In chemistry, a solution is a special type of homogeneous mixture composed of two or more substances. In such a mixture, a solute is a substance dissolved in another substance, known as a solvent. The mixing process of a solution happens at a scale where the effects of chemical polarity are involved, resulting in interactions that are specific to solvation. The solution assumes the phase of the solvent when the solvent is the larger fraction of the mixture, as is commonly the case. The concentration of a solute in a solution is the mass of that solute expressed as a percentage of the mass of the whole solution. The term "aqueous solution" is used when one of the solvents is water.


Solvation describes the interaction of solvent with dissolved molecules. Ionized and uncharged molecules interact strongly with solvent, and the strength and nature of this interaction influence many properties of the solute, including solubility, reactivity, and color, as well as influencing the properties of the solvent such as the viscosity and density. In the process of solvation, ions are surrounded by a concentric shell of solvent. Solvation is the process of reorganizing solvent and solute molecules into solvation complexes. Solvation involves bond formation, hydrogen bonding, and van der Waals forces. Solvation of a solute by water is called hydration.Solubility of solid compounds depends on a competition between lattice energy and solvation, including entropy effects related to changes in the solvent structure.

Sublimation (phase transition)

Sublimation is the transition of a substance directly from the solid to the gas phase, without passing through the intermediate liquid phase. Sublimation is an endothermic process that occurs at temperatures and pressures below a substance's triple point in its phase diagram, which corresponds to the lowest pressure at which the substance can exist as a liquid. The reverse process of sublimation is deposition or desublimation, in which a substance passes directly from a gas to a solid phase. Sublimation has also been used as a generic term to describe a solid-to-gas transition (sublimation) followed by a gas-to-solid transition (deposition). While a transition from liquid to gas is described as evaporation if it occurs below the boiling point of the liquid, and as boiling if it occurs at the boiling point, there is no such distinction within the solid-to-gas transition, which is always described as sublimation.

At normal pressures, most chemical compounds and elements possess three different states at different temperatures. In these cases, the transition from the solid to the gaseous state requires an intermediate liquid state. The pressure referred to is the partial pressure of the substance, not the total (e.g. atmospheric) pressure of the entire system. So, all solids that possess an appreciable vapour pressure at a certain temperature usually can sublime in air (e.g. water ice just below 0 °C). For some substances, such as carbon and arsenic, sublimation is much easier than evaporation from the melt, because the pressure of their triple point is very high, and it is difficult to obtain them as liquids.

The term sublimation refers to a physical change of state and is not used to describe the transformation of a solid to a gas in a chemical reaction. For example, the dissociation on heating of solid ammonium chloride into hydrogen chloride and ammonia is not sublimation but a chemical reaction. Similarly the combustion of candles, containing paraffin wax, to carbon dioxide and water vapor is not sublimation but a chemical reaction with oxygen.

Sublimation is caused by the absorption of heat which provides enough energy for some molecules to overcome the attractive forces of their neighbors and escape into the vapor phase. Since the process requires additional energy, it is an endothermic change. The enthalpy of sublimation (also called heat of sublimation) can be calculated by adding the enthalpy of fusion and the enthalpy of vaporization.

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