Electrolytes
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Conductivity

Electrolytes

There is still another way of classifying solutions, and it has to do with their electrical properties. If you take a material which does dissolve in water, the resulting solution will conduct electricity to varying degrees, anywhere from hardly at all to very well, depending upon what the material is.

Materials which do not increase the electrical conductivity of water when they are dissolved in the water are referred to as nonelectrolytes. Materials which do increase the electrical conductivity of water when they dissolve are called electrolytes.

Even among electrolytes, there are some variations. We can talk about weak electrolytes, and we can talk about strong electrolytes. Strong electrolytes increase the electrical conductivity of the water much more than do the weak electrolytes for comparable concentrations. All of this is summarized in this diagram.

Materials soluble in water

Nonelectrolytes do not increase the electrical conductivity of water

Electrolytes do increase the electrical conductivity of water

Weak electrolytes cause a mild increase

Strong electrolytes cause a greater increase

A similar diagram in your workbook (Exercise 11) has space left for some examples. So, of course, you should fill in those spaces by checking out the conductivity page or by testing the electrical conductivity of several solutions when you come into the lab.

 

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