Difference Between Solvent and Solute

Solvent vs Solute

A solution is a homogeneous mixture of two or more substances. It is called a homogenous mixture, because the composition is uniform throughout the solution. The components of a solution are mainly of two types, solutes and the solvents. Solvent dissolves the solutes and form a uniform solution. So, normally solvent amount is higher than the solute quantity.

What is a Solvent?

Solvent is a substance with dissolving capability, thus can dissolve another substance. Solvents can be in a liquid, gaseous or solid state. Most commonly, liquids are used as solvents. Among liquids, water is considered as a universal solvent, because it can dissolve many substances than any other solvent. Gas, solid or any other liquid solute can be dissolved in liquid solvents. In gas solvents, only gas solutes can be dissolved. There is a limit to the amount of solutes that can be added to a certain amount of solvent. The solution is said to be saturated if the maximum amount of the solute is added to the solvent. Solvents can be organic or inorganic. For example, ether, hexane, and methylene chloride are organic solvents, whereas water is an inorganic solvent. Solvents can be broadly categorized into two as polar solvents and non polar solvents. Polar solvent molecules have a charge separation, therefore, capable of dissolving polar solutes. In the dissolution process, dipole-dipole interactions or dipole-induced dipole interactions may occur. Polar solvents can be further divided as polar protic and polar aprotic solvents. Polar protic solvents are capable of hydrogen bond formation with the solutes. Therefore, they solvate anions by hydrogen bonding. Water and methanol are polar protic solvents. Polar aprotic solvents cannot form hydrogen bonds. However, they have large dipole moments, hence form dipole-dipole interactions with ionic solutes, therefore, solvate them. Acetone is a polar aprotic solvent. Non polar solvents dissolve non polar solutes. Hexane, benzene, and toluene are some common non-polar solvents. Other than the above classified solvents, there are some solvents, which have intermediate polar and non polar properties. According to “like dissolve like” phenomenon, solvents dissolve solutes, which match them.

Properties of solvents are essential to know when we use them in laboratories. For example, knowing the boiling points of solvents helps us to determine how to use distillation methods to separate them. Alternatively, the density of solvents is important in solvent extraction techniques. Volatility, toxicity, and flammability are some of other parameters, which we have to focus, when we are working with different solvents.

What is a Solute?

Solute is a substance that dissolves in a solvent in order to form a solution. Solutes can be in liquid, gaseous or solid phase. Normally, in a solution, solutes are in a lesser amount than the solvents. When a solution has the maximum amount of solutes it can dissolve, then the solution is said to be saturated. The dissolution of a solute in a solvent changes the properties of the solvents.

What is the difference between Solvent and Solute?

• Solute is dissolved in a solvent. Therefore, solute is the one to be dissolved; solvent is responsible for dissolving it.

• There can be different types of solutes dissolved in one solvent.

• The amount of solvent in a solution is higher than the solute amount.