Chemistry: What Are Solutions?

What Are Solutions?

The word "solution" is just another fancy term for homogeneous mixture (see Elements, Compounds, and Mixtures). In solutions, one material (called the solute) is completely dissolved in another (called the solvent). Examples of solutions that I use around my house every day are fruit punch and contact lens solution, both of which contain solid solutes dissolved in water.


When two liquids mix to form a solution, we usually define the minor component as being the solute and the major component as the solvent. In cases where two liquids are completely soluble in one another at all concentrations, we say that they are "miscible" (pronounced "miss-eh-ble"). For example, rubbing alcohol and water are miscible with one another. Though there are many thousands of different liquids, you can't place more than four different liquids in a container before you find two that start to mix.

book cover

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chemistry © 2003 by Ian Guch. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book direct from the publisher, visit the Penguin USA website or call 1-800-253-6476. You can also purchase this book at and Barnes & Noble.