Aqueous Solution: Definition, Reaction & Example

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  • 0:01 What Makes a Solution Aqueous?
  • 1:34 What an Aqueous…
  • 2:50 Types of Aqueous Solutions
  • 4:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Reid

Danielle has taught middle school science and has a doctorate degree in Environmental Health

Rainwater, Gatorade, and orange juice. These are just a few great examples of aqueous solutions. Read on to learn about aqueous solutions and their reactions in the environment.

What Makes a Solution Aqueous?

It is pretty amazing that roughly 75% of the earth's surface is made of up water. That's a whole lot of water! Whether it is that cup of fresh, cold water, a serene lake in your neighborhood, or birds taking their summer dip in a water bath, water surrounds us just about everywhere we go. So, it may be of no surprise that an aqueous solution contains just that - water! By definition, an aqueous solution is any solution that uses water to dissolve or break down a substance. That substance can be something like sugar to make sugar water, or dirt to make stuff we like to call mud. Let's look at how an aqueous solution works when in action.

It is important to remember that when you think about aqueous solutions, you should take note of what your solute and solvent is. Sol-what and solv-who? Yes, solute and solvent. A solvent is any type of liquid that can dissolve something. Water just so happens to be the most popular type of solvent. Why? Because you can find it in just about anything!

Now, on to solutes. These are substances that cannot break apart on their own and need help dissolving. For example, I mentioned dirt and mud earlier. Well, when you make mud, you have the solute (dirt) and solvent (water) that make mud when stirred together. Dirt cannot dissolve by itself, but with the help of a solvent like water, it will dissolve in no time. Keep in mind that any substance dissolved in a liquid other than water is called a non-aqueous solution. So, when you see the word 'aqueous,' think 'water.'

What an Aqueous Solution Can Do

Now that you are a master of the concept of solutes versus solvents in aqueous solutions, let's look at another awesome thing these solutions can do. I'm pretty sure you have guzzled on a bottle of Gatorade before. Did you know that this is an aqueous solution? That is, an electrolyte aqueous solution to be precise. When a substance is dissolved or breaks apart in an aqueous solution, such as water, it can be charged.

The fancy title for this charged substance is called an ion. The thing to remember about aqueous solutions is that the water contained in the solution can supercharge whatever is being dissolved and knight it with that distinguished title, ion. Another way of calling aqueous solutions that perform this honorable duty are electrolyte solutions.

But wait, how does this relate to Gatorade? Well, that is the best way to describe Gatorade - an electrolyte solution. Think of Gatorade as an aqueous solution - or the solvent - that dissolves sugars and other items - or the solute. These sugars and other items get a super boost when dissolved in the solution and become charged, or turn into ions: hence, the name electrolyte solution. Although aqueous solutions can camouflage themselves into several different forms, they are pretty useful in chemical reactions also.

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