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Solutes vs. Solvents

  1. Nov 8, 2003 #1
    I'm in College Preparatory Biology in high school(9th grade) and my friend was trying to prove my teacher wrong(it's fun :P).
    He said that a solute is the same thing as a solvent.

    According to his dictionary, a solute is a substance that can be dissolved into another substance.
    Also according to his dictionary, a solvent is a substance that can dissolve anyother substance.

    My friend looked up dissolve and it said "the act of changing the purity of a substance by causing it to pass into another substance"

    My friend argued that if you pour Kool-Aid into water, the Kool-Aid would be the solute, and the water would be the solvent, right?
    If you pour water into the Kool-Aid, however, the water would be the solute, and the Kool-Aid would be solvent.

    So Kool-Aid = Solute or Solvent
    and Water = Solute or Solvent.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 8, 2003 #2


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    That might be a bad example because water doesn't disolve in kool aid.

    You should probably use something different like alcohol and water, or gasoline and oil if you want solution in both directions.
  4. Nov 8, 2003 #3


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    Everything is soluble in everything else? Close --- needs some qualifications regarding stabilities at T, P, and chemical potentials of solvent and solute.

    Water in Kool-aid? Sure --- think about dry Kool-aid vs. the stuff that's been sitting in the cupboard all summer in 100% humidity. Pouring water into Kool-aid that's already in solution? Nope, that's a dilution process.

    Be careful (or caution your friend to be careful) using a dictionary to support scientific arguments --- Merriam Webster, Roget, and the Oxford are NOT recognized authorities on the very specific uses of words within scientific contexts.
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