Universal solvent/water as a universal solvent

A solvent is a substance that can dissolve other substances, whereas a universal solvent is a substance that can dissolve all other substances. There is no such known solvent that can dissolve all available solutes. Water is called the universal solvent because it can dissolve more substances than any other solvent. Alkahest is the hypothetical true universal solvent.

Solvent

A solvent is a substance that can dissolve solutes. A solvent is present in greater quantity. A solute is a substance that is present in smaller quantities. A solvent is always in liquid form. There are different types of solvents, for example, organic/inorganic solvents, polar/nonpolar solvents, etc.

Why do substances dissolve?

The process of dissolution of substance is based upon a principle “like dissolves like”

This means that polar substances are dissolved into polar solvents. Similarly, nonpolar substances are dissolved into nonpolar solvents.

Universal solvent definition

According to the definition, A universal solvent must dissolve all solutes. But in actuality, there is no such known solvent that can dissolve all available solutes. Water is known as a universal solvent because it can dissolve more chemicals than other solvents. Alkahest is the theoretical true universal solvent and it is capable of dissolving any substance.

Alkahest (theoretical universal solvent)

The word “Alkahest” is supposed to be derived from the Arabic word “alkali” Alkahest was named differently in different eras. Helmont called it an “immortal” because of its never-ending reusability. Other names for “Alkahest” are Maccabean fire, Latex, etc. Alkahest became very popular in the 17th and 18th centuries through J.B. van Helmont.

Structure of Alkahest

Alkahest was basically a dissolving liquid. According to Helmont and Robert Boyle, the alkahest had a “microstructure”. it was composed of extremely small, homogeneous corpuscles. This structure allowed the alkahest’s particle to move between the corpuscles of all other materials and mechanically separate them without altering their base materials. It was thought Alkashet could dissolve gold.

Structure of water molecule

Water is a clear, tasteless, odorless, inorganic chemical substance. Water is one of basic necessities of life for every living thing. Water is the main constituent of the universe.

In water molecules, the electronegative oxygen atom is covalently bonded to two hydrogen atoms. Oxygen atom has partial positive charge whereas, Hydrogen atoms have partial negative charges.

There present hydrogen bonding in the water molecules. Water molecules have positive and negative ends. So the positive part of an ionic compound is attracted toward oxygen of water molecule whereas, the negative part of an ionic compound is attracted toward hydrogens of water molecules. This arrangement allows water molecules to be attracted to different molecules.

How water molecules dissolve many solutes

Dissolution means the conversion of two different phases into the same phases. For a substance to be dissolved there must be a strong interaction between the solute and solvent. The newly formed bond must be strong and more stable than the old bonds.

Water molecules have great dissolving power. This is because of hydrogen bonding and the polarity of a water molecule.

As water molecules have both positive and negative ends. This allows the water molecule to dissociate ionic compounds. When an ionic compound breaks into positive and negative charges. The negative charges are attracted by the partially positive hydrogen atom and the positive charges are attracted by the partially negative oxygen atom.

Why water is called a universal solvent

Water is called a universal solvent this is because of its wide capacity to dissolve many chemical substances. Although it is not true because universal solvent must dissolve all the substances. Water molecules dissolve more chemicals than any other solvents. That’s why water is known as a universal solvent.

 

The substances that are not dissolved in water

Water molecules interact differently with polar and nonpolar compounds. The water molecule has greater interaction with ionic as well as polar compounds. On the other hand, nonpolar molecules have very low solubility in the water molecule. Even there are many substances that are totally insoluble in water i.e oil, fats, etc. these remain separate and form droplets or a separate layer.

Why there is no true universal solvent

According to the definition, A true universal solvent must dissolve every chemical substance. There is no true universal solvent because how can we store it. As it can dissolve everything. Water is called a universal solvent on its comparison with other available solvents.

Concepts Berg

Define universal solvent

Universal solvent is a substance that can dissolve every available chemical substance.

Why Is Water the Universal Solvent?

Water is called the universal solvent because it can dissolve more substance than anyother solvent.

Why Salt Dissolves in Water?

Salt dissolves in the water because newly formed bonds are much stronger than older ones. When salt is added to water it dissociates salt molecules into positive and negative ions. These ions are attracted by the positive and negative ends of water molecules. In this way salts are dissolved in water.

Why water is not a true universal solvent?

A true universal solvent must dissolve every available substance but there are many substances that are not dissolved by water. That’s why water is not a true universal solvent.

What substances are not dissolved in water?

Organic compounds have low solubility in water. They are fairly soluble in organic solvents. There are many substances that are insoluble in water. For example, oil, waxes, fatty acids, etc. When these substances are mixed with water molecules they form droplets or separate layers.

Why is water a good solvent?

Water is a good solvent because of its polar nature. Water molecules have positive and negative ends. So the positive part of an ionic compound is attracted toward oxygen of water molecule whereas, the negative part of an ionic compound is attracted toward hydrogens of water molecules. This arrangement allows water molecules to be attracted to different molecules.

Why there is no true universal solvent?

A true universal solvent must dissolve every substance. But in acutaility there is no such known substance taht can dissolve every substance. Because if it can dissolve every substance than how we can store it.

If humans are 70% water; and water is known as a universal solvent. What keeps us from dissolving?

References:

Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. “What Is a Universal Solvent in Chemistry?” ThoughtCo, Aug. 28, 2020, thoughtco.com/definition-of-universal-solvent-605762.

Was this article helpful?