List three examples of common solvents, and three examples of common solutes.

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caledon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The terms "solute" and "solvent" are slightly subjective, and depend upon the situation being considered and the definitions of the terms themselves.

The understanding of these concepts that exists in our minds is somewhat different and easier than the explanation necessary to describe them. A solution is a combination of a solute and a solvent. The solvent is usually a liquid, and the solute either a solid or a liquid. The most familiar interaction involves the solute "falling apart" as it is distributed evenly throughout the solvent by intermolecular forces. Salt and water are often given as a textbook instance of solute and solvent, with the salt dissolving in the water.

However, if we changed the components of this solution, for example by putting a small amount of water in a large amount of pure alcohol, then the water would be considered the solvent. This is where our everyday associations of solutes and solvents begin to break down a bit.

Nevertheless, if we're going by the commonplace associations listed above, then three examples of solvents would be water (a polar solvent), alcohol (a nonpolar solvent) and vinegar (an acid). 

Common solutes would be salt (which dissolves in water), oil (which dissolves in alcohol) and baking soda (which dissolves in vinegar)

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