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Solubility Lesson for Kids: Definition & Rules

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  • 0:04 What is Solubility?
  • 0:42 How Substances Dissolve
  • 1:19 Levels of Solubility
  • 2:07 Solubility Limits
  • 2:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor
Patrick Zedrow

Patrick has taught intermediate science, language arts, and technology. He has a master's degree in educational technology.

Expert Contributor
Dawn Mills

Dawn has taught chemistry and forensic courses at the college level for 9 years. She has a PhD in Chemistry and is an author of peer reviewed publications in chemistry.

Certain chemicals are able to dissolve into other chemicals because of a property called solubility. In this lesson, we'll explore solubility and its different levels and limits.

What is Solubility?

Have you ever poured sugar into your tea and stirred it up? Why does the sugar seem to disappear? Well, it's actually dissolving, which means it breaks down and becomes absorbed into the tea, and it does so because it has a chemical property called solubility.

Solubility is the ability to dissolve into (become a part of) another substance. Something that dissolves, like the sugar in our example, is called a solute. The substance that it dissolves into, like the tea, is called the solvent. When a solute dissolves into the solvent, the end product is called a solution.

How Substances Dissolve

Imagine a small crystal of sugar. When it touches water, the tiny water particles surround that sugar crystal and bond with it. It's like the water particles are telling the sugar, ''You're in our club now!'' The sugar still keeps its features, like the sweet taste, but because the sugar's bonds were loose, those bonds have been broken apart by the water particles, and the sugar becomes bonded to the liquid water.

Many other solutes also dissolve in water, such as salt and baking soda. Liquids can be solutes, too. For example, alcohol and food coloring can dissolve into water. Can you think of any solutes that dissolve in water?

Levels of Solubility

Sometimes the tiny particles of a substance are held together very tightly, making it hard for another substance to break the substance's bonds and form a new bond. In this case, the substance has a low solubility.

Can you think of something that doesn't dissolve in water? Consider sand, for instance. A particle of sand is held together very tightly. Water particles do not have enough energy to break down the sand particle. If you poured sand into a glass of water, the sand would just settle at the bottom (when this happens, it's called a mixture). You might call sand ''insoluble.''

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Additional Activities

The solubility of different compounds

This activity will investigate the solubility of different compounds in water and how different factors affect solubility. There is a discussion section below that you can reference with questions regarding the activity.

Materials

Pen or pencil

Paper

Glass or clear containers

Salt

Sugar

Flour

Access to microwave/stove (or a way to heat water)

Measuring spoon (1/4 tsp would be best)

Directions

1. Place 1 cup of room temperature water into 3 containers. Add 1/4 tsp of salt, sugar, and flour into separate containers.

2. Stir the mixture well. All the mixture to sit for a few minutes. Record your observations. If the substance does not completely dissolve at this stage it is considered insoluble.

3. If all of the solid dissolved then add an additional 1/4 tsp and stir. Let it sit for a few minutes again. Record observations.

4. Repeat step 3 until no more solid can dissolve.

5. Repeat steps 1-4 using cold water.

6. Repeat steps 1-4 using hot water.

Questions

1. Was there a difference in solubility of the salt, sugar, and flour at room temperature?

2. Did the temperature affect the solubility of any of the solids?

Discussion

Sugar has a higher solubility in water so it should more sugar should dissolve than salt. Flour is insoluble and is not expected to dissolve. The flour may appear as a suspension where the flour particles are suspended in the water. This suspension indicates that the flour is insoluble in water. For the other substances, as the temperature increases, the solubility increases. This means that more of the substance should dissolve. Lower temperatures will cause the solubility to decrease.

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