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Manners of Dissolving Substances

  1. Oct 15, 2011 #1
    Chemistry: Manners of Dissolving Substances

    1. The problem statement, all variables and given/known data

    "Dissolving a substance can be achieved through dissociation, ionization, or dispersion. Which manner of dissolving occurs to each of the following substances? Substances are: acetic acid, methanol and copper (II) sulfate."

    2. Relevant equations

    Acetic Acid: CH3COOH, Methanol: CH3OH, Copper (II) sulfate: CuSO4

    3. The attempt at a solution

    Acetic acid: Dissociation.
    Methanol: Dispersion.
    Copper (II) sulfate: Dissociation.

    I am confused as to why some sources suggest that acetic acid would dissolve through ionization. Isn't acetic acid ionic? If not, how would I go about discerning when a substance is ionic or not, particularly when the compound contains one or more polyatomic ions?

    Please take into account that I am only at a intermediate high school level of education. I will not be able to understand any explanation that requires me to have attended a grade twelve or university level of chemistry. I greatly appreciate any help that can be provided.

    Thank you,

    Last edited: Oct 15, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 15, 2011 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Some thing you just have to memorize. Acetic acid is an acid - so it dissociates. But it is a weak acid - so it dissociates only partially.

    This is related to your earlier question on ionizable substances - rule of thumb is all salts dissociate, all strong acids and strong bases dissociate, weak acids/bases dissociate only partially, everything else doesn't dissociate at all.
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