What Would Happen if a Crystal of a Solute Was Added to an Unsaturated Solution?

These solutions have colored solutes dissolved in them.
••• Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

Solutions are an important part of everyday life. On a small scale, our bodies are full of solutions such as blood. On a massive scale, the chemistry of salts dissolved in the ocean -- effectively a vast liquid solution -- dictates the nature of oceanic life. Oceans and other large bodies of water are good examples of unsaturated solutions, in which more salt -- the solute -- can dissolve into the solution.

Unsaturated Solutions

When a solute crystal is added to an unsaturated solution, individual solute ions or compounds -- depending on the solute -- become surrounded by solvent molecules. The solvent molecules have plenty of space to reorganize themselves in such a fashion in order to dissolve the particle. Even if only one more molecule could be dissolved, the solvent molecules can quickly rearrange to accommodate the last particle before the saturation point. Any further additions, however, would have no space to squeeze into, and the particles would simply float or sink to the bottom of the container.

Supersaturation

In most cases, it is possible to dissolve more solute by heating up the solution. Even after subsequently cooling the solution, the crystals will stay dissolved. This is called supersaturation – the solute will only crystallize if an additional crystal is added or the solution is disturbed. That type of crystallization is how rock candy is made.

Related Articles

What Does Soluble Mean in Science?
Is Grease Dissolving in Soapy Water a Physical or Chemical...
How to Calculate the Osmolarity
How to Calculate Solubilities
How Do Crystals Form in Caves?
How Does Salt Crystallize?
Why Does Sugar Affect the Freezing Point of Water?
How to Make a Supersaturated Solution of Copper-Sulfate
Differences Between a Compound and a Solid Solution
How to Prepare Supersaturated Salt Water Solutions
What Does Solute Mean?
Methods of Making Crystals for a Kids Science Experiment
Why Is Salt Water Heavier Than Tap Water?
What Affects the Osmolarity of a Solution?
Science Projects on What Freezes Faster: Water or Sugar...
Rock Salt Vs. Table Salt to Melt Ice
Types of Water Ecosystems
Substances That Won't Dissolve in Water
Definition of Acidic Solution
How to Calculate Initial Concentrations