What is a Solution in Science?

A solution in science is a homogeneous mixture made up of two or more components.
••• MadamLead/iStock/GettyImages

When it comes to science, a solution doesn’t just mean the correct answer on that chemistry quiz. As a broad term, which at its core refers to a homogeneous mixture of two or more components. Natural solutions are all around us: The air we breathe is a solution, as are many common alloys like steel and bronze. With a little understanding of what makes up a solution, you’ll also be able to easily concoct your own and recognize them when you come across them.

TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)

A solution in science is a homogeneous mixture made up of two or more components, and can be a solid, liquid or gas. Common solutions include steel, air and salt water.

What Makes Up a Solution in Biology

For consideration as a solution, a mixture must have at least two components and be homogeneous. A homogeneous mixture means that the materials involved have dissolved into each other and appear to be one. For instance, when you look at a glass full of soda, you’re looking at water mixed with different ingredients that could include carbon dioxide, sugar and artificial coloring. But you don’t see those ingredients individually, you simply see a glass of carbonated beverage, a homogeneous mixture.

If you look at a bottle of salad dressing made with oil and vinegar, on the other hand, you’re looking at a heterogeneous mixture. Salad dressing is not a solution, because oil and vinegar do not dissolve into each other (even when they briefly appear to if you vigorously shake up the bottle).

Solutions are made up of one major component -- called a solvent -- and at least one other component: A solute. In the glass of soda, the water would be the solvent, and the other minor ingredients like carbon dioxide or sugar would be the solutes.

Sometimes, a liquid solution is made up of only two components, and they are equally represented. In that case, the terms solvent and solute would be interchangeable. Solutions are also common in the other two forms of matter, gases and solids.

Solid Solutions

Solid solutions form when the solvent, or the major component, is a solid. Gases, liquids and other solids can all be dissolved into the solvent to create a solid solution. Many common solid materials, such as polymers, are examples of solid blends. You’ve probably already encountered some sort of polymer solution today; They’re used to create all kinds of items from plastic water bottles to contact lenses to computers.

Steel is another example of a solid solution, since it is a mixture of iron, carbon and chromium. Other materials used in building, such as bronze and brass, are alloys that are solid solutions. Creating these materials requires detailed scientific knowledge of how to create the equation that allows these ingredients to form together into a homogeneous, solid structure.

Gaseous Solutions

When a solution starts with a gas solvent, and then mixes with a gas solute, the result is a gas-gas solution. The most common natural gas solution is the air we breathe every day, which is a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gases.

Related Articles

How to Identify Heterogeneous & Homogeneous Mixtures
Differences Between a Compound and a Solid Solution
What is the Difference Between a Solution And a Suspension?
What is a Solvent?
What is the Meaning of Homogeneous?
What is the Definition of Dissolve in Chemistry?
What Does Soluble Mean in Science?
What Is Anhydrous Methanol?
Substances That Won't Dissolve in Water
Briefly Explain the Meaning of the Phrase "Resolve...
What Can We Use Instead of Liquid Bluing for Crystal...
How to Remove Acetone Residue
What is a Saturated Solution?
Science Projects on Bubbleology
The Chemistry of Rock Candy
In What Units Is Solubility Measured?
What Would Happen if a Crystal of a Solute Was Added...
What Is Polyethylene Glycol?
What is a Compound?
How to Calculate the Density of a Solution

Dont Go!

We Have More Great Sciencing Articles!