Difference Between Solute and Solvent with Examples

solute and solvent

A solution can be defined as a homogeneous mixture of two or more substances. These substances act either as a solute or as a solvent. We all come across various types of solutions in our daily lives. Air that we breathe is a solution of many gases. Similarly, tea and coffee are also solutions.

What is a solvent? A solvent is a substance that dissolves solute particles to form a solution. Solvent is mostly liquid but is can be gaseous in some cases and rarely a solid as well. Solvent makes up most of the volume of solution, i.e. volume of solvent is higher than that of solute in a solution.

Whats is a solute? A solute is a substance that gets dissolved in the solvent to form a solution. Amount of solute is always lesser than the amount of solvent in a solution.

Major Differences Between Solute and Solvent with Examples

Differences Between Solute and Solvent
Basis of Comparison Solute Solvent
Boiling Point Solute has the boiling point higher than the solvent. Solvent’s boiling point is lower than that of the solute.
Physical State May be in solid, liquid or gaseous state. Mostly solvent is liquid, but it can be gaseous and solid too.
Physical State of Solution Physical state of the solution may or may not be same as that of the solute. Almost always the physical state of solution is same as the physical state of the solvent.
Quantity In a solution solute is lesser than solvent in quantity. Solvent makes up most of the volume of the solution.
Heat Transfer Heat is transferred to the solute. Heat is transferred from the solvent.
Phase Solute particles disperses uniformly throughout the solution. Solvent makes the medium in which solute disperses.
Solubility Solubility of solute depends on its properties like surface area and molecular size. Solubility of a solvent depends on its properties like polarity.

solute and solvent

Examples of Solutes and Solvents

Solutes

  • Salt in seawater
  • Sugar in tea
  • Alcohol in alcoholic drinks
  • Mercury dissolved in silver (to form amalgam)
  • Protons dissolved in cytosol

Solvents

  • Water
  • Alcohols
  • Esters
  • Hydrocarbons
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