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What is a Solution in Science? Examples of Solutions

Yash Solanki, Nissa Garcia, Dawn Mills
  • Author
    Yash Solanki

    Yash Solanki has taught post-secondary science for over four years. He has a bachelors degree in Biology from Iowa State University, and has worked as a scientific researcher at multiple global institutions.

  • Instructor
    Nissa Garcia

    Nissa has a masters degree in chemistry and has taught high school science and college level chemistry.

  • 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.

What is a solution in science? Learn how solutions are formed and see solution examples. Learn about the different types of solutions: solid, liquid and gas. Updated: 06/01/2021

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Solution Definition

What is a solution in science? A solution, in science, refers to a type of mixture involving two or more substances. Specifically, the solution definition refers to a type of homogeneous mixture - i.e., a mixture that has a uniform composition and its individual components cannot be distinguished. This is different from a heterogeneous mixture, in which individual components can be visually identified.

Solutions generally refer to liquid mixtures, but can also involve mixtures of gases or solids. Creating a solution requires two components - a solvent and a solute. The solvent is the medium into which other substances will be dissolved, and usually makes up a greater percentage of the mixture. The solute is the substance (or substances) that will be dissolved into the solvent. For example, if you mixed a solution of 70% ethanol and 30% water, the ethanol would be the solvent and the water would be the solute. If you dissolve some table salt in a glass of water, the water will be acting as the solvent, while the salt is a solute. The salt water that is created is a solution.

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  • 0:01 What Is a Solution?
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Solution Examples

Sodas are a well-known example of a solution, consisting of multiple ingredients (solutes) dissolved in water (a solvent).

Solution examples: soda

There are many examples of solutions that we encounter, or create, in our day-to-day lives. Some solution examples include:

  • Soda - Most sodas are mixtures of many ingredients, such as sugar, food colors, flavorings, and even carbon dioxide (for the fizziness). The solvent for these ingredients (or substrates) is water.
  • Seawater - While we may look at seawater as simply water, it is actually a solution consisting of various salts such as sodium chloride and magnesium chloride. These salts are ionic compounds, which dissolve into water (a polar solvent) by dissociating into cations and anions. For example, when sodium chloride (NaCl) is dissolved in water its molecules dissociate into Na+ cations and Cl- anions that freely float around in the solvent (water).
  • Air - Air is a gaseous solution, composed of many different, mixed gases including nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide.
  • Metal alloys - Alloys such as steel and brass may appear as simple metals, but they are actually solid solutions consisting of a metal mixed with other metals or chemicals. For example, brass is a solid solution of the metals copper and zinc.

The key factor that differentiates a solution from many other types of mixtures is that it is a homogeneous mixture. Take soda, for example. Its individual components, such as the sugar or the flavorings, cannot be easily identified. It simply appears as a uniform liquid, which is what classifies it as a homogeneous mixture.

Types of Solutions

Based on the state of matter of the solvent and solute in a solution, it can be classified as one of multiple types. For example, a solid/solid solution would involve a mixture of two or more solid compounds into a solution, while liquid/gas solutions would involve mixing a gas and a liquid (two different states of matter) to make a solution. Let us examine these different types of solutions, and discuss some well-known examples of each type.

Solid Solutions

Solid solutions generally involve melting two or more solids at high temperatures, mixing, and then letting them cool and solidify. Examples of solid solutions include:

  • Brass - a solid solution (metal alloy) containing copper and zinc
  • Bronze - a metal alloy, that is a solid solution of tin and copper
  • Sterling silver - a metal alloy, that is a solid solution of silver and copper

Liquid Solutions

Liquid solutions involve a mixture of two or more miscible liquids (i.e., liquids that can dissolve in one another). Examples include:

  • Vinegar - A solution of water and acetic acid
  • Hand sanitizers - A solution primarily consisting of ethanol mixed with water.
  • Antifreeze - a mixture of water and ethylene glycol

Gas Solutions

Gas solutions involve a mixture of two or more substances in the gaseous state. Examples include:

  • Air - the air in our atmosphere is a solution of multiple gases, primarily nitrogen and oxygen
  • Natural gas - a solution of various gaseous organic compounds, namely methane, ethane, butane, and propane

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  • FAQs

Solutions in science

As previously learned, solutions are homogeneous, or equal throughout, and contain a solute and solvent. As a reminder, the solute is present in less amount than the solvent. Solutions are found in our everyday life and can be prepare din laboratory settings for scientific experiments.

Questions

1. Jack was preparing his morning coffee. He adds hot water to coffee round to extract a liquid from the grounds containing caffeine and other relevant compounds. Jack adds sugar to his coffee which full dissolves and makes it sweeter to taste. Is his cup of coffee considered a solution?

2. In the scenario above what is the solute and what is the solvent?

3. Jane is drinking a root beer soda. Is she drinking a solution? If so, what is the solute and solvent?

4. Janet added some olive oil to a cup of water. Is this considered a solution? Why or why not?

Discussion

1. Yes, his coffee is a homogeneous solution since the sugar is dissolved in the coffee.

2. The solvent is water as it is present in the largest amounts picking up trace components as it passes through the coffee grounds. The solute is sugar as it is dissolved in a small amount within the solvent.

3. Yes she is. In this case, a carbonated beverage is made by adding carbon dioxide to water in order to form bubbles. The solvent in the soda would be the water while the solvent would be the carbon dioxide since it is dissolve din small amounts relative to the water.

4. No it is not a solution. Oil and water are not miscible, therefore the mixture would not be homogeneous.

What are some common examples of solutions?

There are many examples of solutions that we encounter, or create, in our day-to-day lives. Some solution examples include:

  • Soda - Sodas are solutions of liquid (water), solid (sugar, flavorings, etc.), and gaseous (carbon dioxide) ingredients.
  • Seawater - A solution consisting of various salts (e.g., sodium chloride, magnesium chloride) dissolved in water.
  • Air - A gaseous solution, composed of many different, mixed gases including nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide.

Whats the definition of solution?

The solution definition refers to a type of homogeneous mixture - i.e., a mixture of two or more substances that has a uniform composition and you cannot make out its individual components.

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