The solvent in aqueous options is water, which makes up about 70% the the mass of the human body and also is essential for life. Countless of the chemistry reactions that save us alive rely on the communication of water molecule with dissolved compounds. Moreover, together we will comment on in thing 5 "Energy alters in chemistry Reactions", the presence of big amounts of water top top Earth’s surface helps keep its surface temperature in a range suitable for life. In this section, we describe some of the interactions of water with assorted substances and also introduce you come the features of aqueous solutions.

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Polar Substances

As shown in figure 4.1 "The Polar Nature of Water", the separation, personal, instance water molecule is composed of two hydrogen atoms bonded come an oxygen atom in a bent (V-shaped) structure. As is common of team 16 elements, the oxygen atom in every O–H covalent bond attracts electrons an ext strongly than the hydrogen atom does. (For an ext information on periodic table groups and covalent bonding, watch Chapter 2 "Molecules, Ions, and also Chemical Formulas" and also Chapter 7 "The periodic Table and also Periodic Trends".) Consequently, the oxygen and hydrogen nuclei execute not equally share electrons. Instead, hydrogen atoms space electron poor compared v a neutral hydrogen atom and also have a partial positive charge, i beg your pardon is shown by δ+. The oxygen atom, in contrast, is an ext electron wealthy than a neutral oxygen atom, for this reason it has actually a partial negative charge. This charge should be double as large as the partial confident charge on every hydrogen for the molecule to have actually a net charge of zero. Thus its charge is indicated by 2δ−. This unequal distribution of fee creates a polar bondA chemical bond in which over there is an unequal distribution of charge between the bonding atoms., in which one portion of the molecule dead a partial an unfavorable charge, while the other portion carries a partial positive charge (Figure 4.1 "The Polar Nature of Water"). Because of the arrangement of polar binding in a water molecule, water is described as a polar substance.

Figure 4.1 The Polar Nature of Water


Each water molecule consists of 2 hydrogen atoms bonded to an oxygen atom in a bend (V-shaped) structure. Because the oxygen atom attractive electrons much more strongly than the hydrogen atoms do, the oxygen atom is partially negatively fee (2δ−; blue) and the hydrogen atoms are partially positively fee (δ+; red). For the molecule to have a net charge of zero, the partial an adverse charge ~ above oxygen must be twice as large as the partial optimistic charge on every hydrogen.

Because that the asymmetric charge circulation in the water molecule, nearby water molecules are hosted together by attractive electrostatic (δ+…δ−) interactions in between the partly negatively charged oxygen atom that one molecule and the partially positively charged hydrogen atoms of surrounding molecules (Figure 4.2 "The structure of liquid Water"). Power is essential to get over these electrostatic attractions. In fact, there is no them, water would certainly evaporate at a much lower temperature, and also neither Earth’s oceans nor we would exist!

Figure 4.2 The framework of fluid Water


Two views of a water molecule room shown: (a) a ball-and-stick structure and (b) a space-filling model. Water molecules are held together by electrostatic attractions (dotted lines) between the partially negatively fee oxygen atom the one molecule and the partly positively fee hydrogen atom on surrounding molecules. Together a result, the water molecule in liquid water type transient networks with structures similar to that shown. Because the interactions between water molecules are continually breaking and also reforming, liquid water does not have actually a solitary fixed structure.

As you learned in section 2.1 "Chemical Compounds", ionic compounds together as sodium chloride (NaCl) are likewise held together by electrostatic interactions—in this case, in between oppositely charged ions in the very ordered solid, whereby each ion is surrounding by ions of the opposite fee in a addressed arrangement. In comparison to one ionic solid, the framework of fluid water is not completely ordered due to the fact that the interactions in between molecules in a liquid space constantly breaking and also reforming.

The unequal charge distribution in polar liquids such as water provides them an excellent solvents for ionic compounds. Once an ionic solid dissolves in water, the ions dissociate. The is, the partially negatively fee oxygen atom of the H2O molecule surround the cations (Na+ in the instance of NaCl), and also the partly positively fee hydrogen atom in H2O surround the anions (Cl−; number 4.3 "The dissolved of sodium Chloride in Water"). Separation, personal, instance cations and also anions that space each surrounded by their own shell that water molecule are called hydrated ionsIndividual cations and also anions that space each surrounding by their very own shell that water molecules.. We can explain the dissolution of NaCl in water as

Figure 4.3 The dissolution of sodium Chloride in Water


An ionic solid such as sodium chloride dissolves in water due to the fact that of the electrostatic attraction between the cations (Na+) and the partially negatively fee oxygen atoms of water molecules, and between the anions (Cl−) and the partially positively charged hydrogen atom of water.


When electricity, in the kind of one electrical potential, is applied to a solution, ions in solution migrate toward the oppositely fee rod or bowl to finish an electrical circuit, conversely, neutral molecule in solution perform not (Figure 4.4 "The result of ion on the electrical Conductivity the Water"). Thus solutions the contain ions conduct electricity, while solutions that contain just neutral molecules perform not. Electrical existing will flow through the circuit displayed in number 4.4 "The result of ions on the electrical Conductivity that Water" and the bulb will certainly glow only if ions are present. The lower the concentration of ion in solution, the weaker the current and the dimmer the glow. Pure water, because that example, includes only an extremely low concentrations of ions, so the is a negative electrical conductor.

Figure 4.4 The impact of ion on the electric Conductivity the Water


An electrical current will flow and also light the bulb only if the solution includes ions. (a) Pure water or one aqueous systems of a nonelectrolyte enables almost no existing to flow, and also the pear does no light. (b) A weak electrolyte produce a couple of ions, allowing some current to flow and the bulb to light dimly. (c) A strong electrolyte produces many ions, allowing much more current to flow and also the pear to bright brightly.

An electrolyteAny compound that can type ions when liquified in water (c.f. Nonelectrolytes). Electrolytes may be strong or weak. Is any type of compound that can kind ions when it disappear in water. When strong electrolytesAn electrolyte the dissociates completely into ion when liquified in water, thus producing an aqueous solution that conducts electricity an extremely well. Dissolve, the constituent ions dissociate completely due to strong electrostatic interactions through the solvent, developing aqueous remedies that command electricity an extremely well (Figure 4.4 "The effect of ion on the electric Conductivity the Water"). Examples incorporate ionic compounds such together barium chloride (BaCl2) and sodium hydroxide (NaOH), which are both solid electrolytes and also dissociate together follows:

The solitary arrows indigenous reactant to products in Equation 4.2 and Equation 4.3 indicate that dissociation is complete.

When weak electrolytesA compound the produces relatively couple of ions when liquified in water, thus creating an aqueous equipment that conducts power poorly. Dissolve, they develop relatively couple of ions in solution. This does not median that the compounds perform not dissolve easily in water; countless weak electrolytes contain polar bonds and also are therefore very soluble in a polar solvent such together water. They do not fully dissociate to form ions, however, due to the fact that of your weaker electrostatic interactions v the solvent. Since very couple of of the liquified particles room ions, aqueous services of weak electrolytes carry out not conduct electricity and solutions of strong electrolytes. One such compound is acetic acid (CH3CO2H), which contains the –CO2H unit. Although the is dissolve in water, that is a weak acid and also therefore likewise a weak electrolyte. Similarly, ammonia (NH3) is a weak base and also therefore a weak electrolyte. The actions of weak acids and also weak bases will certainly be explained in an ext detail when we comment on acid–base reaction in ar 4.6 "Acid–Base Reactions".

NonelectrolytesA substance the dissolves in water to form neutral molecules and also has essentially no impact on electric conductivity. The dissolve in water execute so as neutral molecules and thus have basically no impact on conductivity. Instances of nonelectrolytes the are an extremely soluble in water however that are essentially nonconductive space ethanol, ethylene glycol, glucose, and sucrose, all of which save the –OH group that is characteristic of alcohols. In chapter 8 "Ionic versus Covalent Bonding", us will comment on why alcohols and carboxylic mountain behave in different ways in aqueous solution; because that now, however, you deserve to simply look because that the presence of the –OH and –CO2H teams when trying come predict even if it is a problem is a solid electrolyte, a weak electrolyte, or a nonelectrolyte. In enhancement to alcohols, two other classes of organic compounds that room nonelectrolytes space aldehydesA class of essential compounds that has actually the general form RCHO, in which the carbon atom the the carbonyl group is external inspection to a hydrogen atom and also an R group. The R group may be either an additional hydrogen atom or an alkyl team (c.f. Ketone). And also ketonesA course of essential compounds with the general form RC(O)R’, in i m sorry the carbon atom that the carbonyl group is external inspection to two alkyl teams (c.f. Aldehyde). The alkyl teams may be the exact same or different., whose general structures are shown here. The distinctions in between soluble and also insoluble substances and also between strong, weak, and nonelectrolytes are shown in figure 4.5 "The Difference between Soluble and Insoluble compound (a) and Strong, Weak, and Nonelectrolytes (b)".

Note the Pattern

Ionic substances and carboxylic acids space electrolytes; alcohols, aldehydes, and also ketones are nonelectrolytes.



General structure of one aldehyde and also a ketone. an alert that both save the C=O group.

Figure 4.5 The Difference in between Soluble and also Insoluble compound (a) and also Strong, Weak, and also Nonelectrolytes (b)


When a soluble compound dissolves, its ingredient atoms, molecules, or ion disperse transparent the solvent. In contrast, the ingredient of one insoluble compound remain connected with one another in the solid. A soluble link is a strong electrolyte if that dissociates totally into ions, a weak electrolyte if the dissociates only slightly right into ions, and also a nonelectrolyte if it disappear to create only neutral molecules.

Example 1

Predict whether each compound is a solid electrolyte, a weak electrolyte, or a nonelectrolyte in water.



cesium chloride

Given: compound

Asked for: relative ability to kind ions in water


A classify the compound as ionic or covalent.

B If the link is ionic and also dissolves, the is a solid electrolyte that will dissociate in water completely to produce a equipment that conducts electrical energy well. If the link is covalent and organic, identify whether it has the carboxylic mountain group. If the compound has this group, that is a weak electrolyte. If not, that is a nonelectrolyte.


A Formaldehyde is an organic compound, so it is covalent. B It contains an aldehyde group, no a carboxylic mountain group, therefore it must be a nonelectrolyte. A Cesium chloride (CsCl) is an ionic link that consists of Cs+ and Cl− ions. B favor virtually all other ionic compounds that space soluble in water, cesium chloride will dissociate completely into Cs+(aq) and also Cl−(aq) ions. Hence it must be a strong electrolyte.


Predict whether each link is a strong electrolyte, a weak electrolyte, or a nonelectrolyte in water.

(CH3)2CHOH (2-propanol)



Most chemical reactions are lugged out in solutions, which space homogeneous mixture of two or much more substances. In a solution, a solute (the substance present in the lesser amount) is dispersed in a solvent (the substance existing in the greater amount). Aqueous solutions save water together the solvent, vice versa, nonaqueous solutions have actually solvents other than water.

Polar substances, such together water, save on computer asymmetric species of polar bonds, in which electrons are mutual unequally between bonded atoms. Polar substances and also ionic compounds have tendency to be many soluble in water since they interact favorably through its structure. In aqueous solution, liquified ions end up being hydrated; the is, a covering of water molecules surrounds them.

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Substances that dissolve in water can be categorized follow to even if it is the result aqueous solutions conduct electricity. Strong electrolytes dissociate totally into ion to create solutions that conduct electricity well. Weak electrolytes develop a relatively small number of ions, bring about solutions that conduct electricity poorly. Nonelectrolytes dissolve as uncharged molecules and also have no result on the electrical conductivity of water.

Key Takeaway

Aqueous solutions deserve to be classified together polar or nonpolar depending upon how well they command electricity.

What are the advantages to transporting out a reaction in solution rather than simply mixing the pure reactants?

Describe the charge distribution in fluid water. Just how does this distribution influence its physics properties?