By understanding each term in terms of meaning, action, and importance you should be able to differentiate between a solvent and a solute without requiring too many examples.
Teachers often illustrate the difference between solvent and solute in the following manner:
- The SOLVEnt's has the capability to disSOLVE
It consists on a substance, which is often in liquid form that is made of particles or combinations of particles strong enough to change, or destroy, the original chemical composition of another substance.
Think of what lava does when a volcano erupts. The heat contained within lava has the thermal capacity of melting everything that come in its way, burning it as a consequence.
Think of an effervescent medicine such as Alka Seltzer. The Alka Seltzer does not melt by itself unless it comes in contact with any liquid. The liquid has the capacity of dissolving the tablet. The tablet's composition is weaker than the liquid, so the liquid transforms the original state of the tablet and turns it into liquid.
SOLUTE- the solute abSOLUTEly depends on the solvent to be able to change.
The solute is the substance that can only undergo change if there is a solvent present. That's why the change cannot take place unless the solvent is there.
nail polish versus acetone- Nail polish is the solute, and its solvent (the substance that can make it change, or go away), is the acetone. The acetone disSOLVEs the solute.
pickled eggs- vinegar (solvent) has the power to dissolve the eggshell. This is why when you pickle eggs, you preserve them in vinegar. While the shell dissolves, it eventually will fuse in with the vinegar and be part of the liquid. The acidity of the solvent (the dissolving vinegar) affects the solute (the egg/eggshell).
Another way to remember:
Solute= Male Solvent= Female
If the male does not propose to the female, there cannot be a marriage.
Therefore, if there is no solute, the solvent cannot mix, change, or do anything on its own--hence, no chemical reaction is possible.
I hope these examples work for you!
Solvent - the majority
Solute - the minority
That's how I remember it! It also helps to remember that, "water is the universal solvent" (two v's as a mnemonic). Because of this phrase, I remember that solvents are like water and dissolves other chemicals (solute). There is more solvent present (majority) and dissolves the solute, which is present in lesser quantity (minority).