Hydrophilic: Definition & Interaction

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  • 0:02 Hydrophilic
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: John Williams
Water is considered to be the 'universal' solvent, however, only hydrophilic materials will dissolve in water readily. This lesson discusses the properties of hydrophilic compounds.


Have you ever added sugar to a drink to make it sweeter? What about dissolving salt in water for cooking? Whenever we dissolve compounds or molecules into water, we are taking advantage of the fact that these chemicals are hydrophilic. If a compound is hydrophilic (or 'water loving'), then this means the compound readily dissolves in water or a watery solvent. Let's discuss what makes a molecule hydrophilic.

What Makes a Molecule Hydrophilic?

Water is a polar molecule. Polar molecules are molecules that have partial charges due to uneven bonding. The oxygen atom in a water molecule is highly electronegative, which means that it will pull the electrons in a bond closer to it. This, in turn, makes oxygen partially negative, and hydrogen partially positive.

Water: A Polar Molecule
Water molecule

Since water has these partial charges, it can attract other chemicals that also have partial charges. Therefore, hydrophilic molecules must have a charged portion in order to dissolve in water. Hydrophilicity is an important quality of many essential materials in nature and in the human body.

Let's discuss several important hydrophilic molecules and chemical components.

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