Describe how the polarity of water contributes to its ability to be an effective biological solvent. What kinds of substances can dissolve in water?

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ncchemist eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Water, as commonplace as it is, is one of the most remarkable substances on Earth.  For such a small molecule, it has a remarkably high boiling point and high surface tension.  This is because water is just about the most polar solvent on the planet.  The internal dipole between the highly electronegative oxygen and the highly electropositive hydrogens combined the the intricate hydrogen bonding networks that neighboring molecules form with one another makes for a very polar liquid.  Because of its polarity, water can dissolve most salts, ions, and sugar molecules.  Remember the saying that like dissolves like.  Most any polar compound will dissolve in water.  Water makes up the majority of blood plasma, so the bloodstream can carry these salts and electrolytes throughout the body where they are used for various electrochemical gradients that help produce ATP.  Water in blood plasma can also interact with the polar surfaces of cell membranes to carry blood cells throughout the body as well.

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