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Solvents and solutions

Some important terms

TermMeaningExample
Solventthe liquid in which a solute dissolvesthe water in sea water
Solutethe substance that dissolves in a liquid to form a solutionthe salt in sea water
Solutionis the mixture formed when a solute has dissolved in a solventsea water
Solubledescribes a substance that will dissolvesalt is soluble in water
Insolubledescribes a substance that will not dissolvesand is insoluble in water

Water is a very important solvent but it's not the only one. Acetone is used to remove nail polish, turpentine to dissolve oil paints and good perfumes are solutions of the fragrance dissolved in ethanol. Dry cleaning fluid is an organic solvent used to clean clothes which would be damaged by detergent and water.

Dry cleaning - higher tier

The molecules of a stain are similar to each other. They cling together (by intermolecular forces) and so they're difficult to remove. A dry cleaning fluid consists of molecules similar to the stain molecules so the intermolecular forces between stain and solvent are similar to those between stain and stain. This enables the stain molecules to separate from each other and dissolve in the solvent. They can then be carried away.

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