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.


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?
How to Calculate the Osmolarity
How Do Crystals Form in Caves?
How Does Salt Crystallize?
Differences Between a Compound and a Solid Solution
Is Grease Dissolving in Soapy Water a Physical or Chemical...
Types of Water Ecosystems
How to Calculate Solubilities
How to Calculate Particle Concentration
What Affects the Osmolarity of a Solution?
How to Calculate Concentration From Density
What Does Solute Mean?
Rock Salt Vs. Table Salt to Melt Ice
How to Prepare Supersaturated Salt Water Solutions
Methods of Making Crystals for a Kids Science Experiment
How to Make a Supersaturated Solution of Copper-Sulfate
How Does Calcium Chloride Melt Ice?
Characteristics of a Colloid
How Do Epsom Salt Crystals Form?
Difference Between Atoms & Ions