Saturated Solution: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 Definition of a…
  • 0:54 Solutes, Solutions, & Polarity
  • 2:05 Examples
  • 4:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Nadine James

Nadine has taught nursing for 12 years and has a PhD in Nursing research

Expert Contributor
Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

In this lesson, you will learn the definition of a saturated solution. There will be examples provided to assist you with your understanding of the topic. Also several types of saturated solutions are provided.

Definition of Saturated Solution

A saturated solution is one where there are about equal amounts of particles or solutes and solvent in the solution. If you live on one of the coasts, you've probably gone to the beach and played in the water. You get the water in your mouth and what do you taste? You probably taste the salt. Have you wondered how much salt is in the water or how much salt can be in the water?

A saturation solution using salt and water

Well, according to scientists, if you placed a teaspoon of salt in a glass of water you would have an example of how much salt is in ocean water. Could you add more salt to that glass of water? The answer is yes, but how much more salt would dissolve in the water? The water, or solvent, can only hold so much salt, or solute, before it becomes saturated. So the salt water would be saturated when no more salt dissolves in the water.

Solutes, Solutions, & Polarity

A solution is made up of particles, or solutes, and a solvent. The solvent part of the solution is usually a liquid but can be a gas. In fact, most of the time the solvent is water; thus, water is known as the universal solvent.

The definition of solute concentration is the amount of solutes or particles that are dissolved in a solution. So would an unsaturated solution be able to have more solutes dissolved in the solution? The answer is yes.

There are three other definitions required for your understanding of this lesson. First, let's define solubility. This is defined as the ability of a solute to be dissolved in a solvent. If the solute is small, it can be dissolved quicker in a solvent.

Next is the definition of the rate of solution. It is defined as the time it takes to dissolve the solute in the solvent.

Finally, keep in mind that each molecule's made up of electrons. The unequal sharing of electrons creates polarity. The molecular structure of a substance and how the structure breaks down has to do with polarity. A substance can have a polar or non-polar nature.


The characteristics of a solvent are: it can be a liquid, a solid, or a gas (although the solvent is usually a liquid). As previously stated, the most common solvent is water; it is known as the universal solvent. A solution with water as the solvent is known as an aqueous solution. Water can dissolve most substances, but not all substances. The solvent for the ocean is water (a liquid) and salt is the solute.

We've all had iced tea and we all know someone who likes a lot of sugar mixed into the tea. And our friend kind of gets carried away. If he puts too much sugar (i.e. his solute) into his tea - say, enough to make it half tea/half sugar - the tea (i.e. his solvent) becomes saturated. A person with less of a ridiculous sweet tooth tends to put enough sugar in that can dissolve in the tea and simply produce a sweet flavor. Their solution, unlike our friend's, remains unsaturated.

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Additional Activities

A Sweet Experiment:

In this experiment, students will examine the relationship between temperature and solubility by making a sugary syrup. To do this, students will need adult supervision to heat a pan of water on the stove. They also need sugar and two heatproof cups or bowls.


Saturated solutions aren't just for science. Saturated solutions and solubility play an important role in the kitchen too. In this home kitchen experiment, we'll be examining how temperature relates to solubility.

  1. Get two heatproof cups or bowls to hold your experiment.
  2. Place one cup of cold water in one bowl.
  3. For the other bowl, heat water on the stove until boiling, then add one cup to the other bowl.
  4. Next, spoon by spoon add as much sugar as you can as long as it keeps dissolving. Do this to the hot water first to avoid it cooling, then repeat with the cold water. Record how many spoonfuls of sugar you can add in the table below.

TemperatureSpoonfuls of Sugar


  1. Which temperature had a greater solubility and how did you know? Include observations from your experiment.
  2. Why did one temperature have greater solubility? Explain what is going on at the molecular level.
  3. Did this experiment involve polar or non-polar solutions and how did you know?

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