Up to this point we have generally discussed the behavior of matter which is made up of only one component---either elements or compounds. Such materials have constant physical and chemical properties. However, in the real world, and in particular in the laboratory, we generally encounter matter which consists of more than one component, i.e., a mixture. Our environment is rich in mixtures of various substances, not the least of which is the air itself, readily accessible to the majority of chemical reactions.
The air around us is a particular type of mixture, and it is this type of mixture with which we are concerned in this unit: the solution. By definition a solution is a homogeneous mixture, that is, it exists in ONE PHASE (there are no apparent boundaries or interfaces in a solution). Simple binary solutions consist of two components:
- solvent: the component present in larger amounts (the "dissolver")
- solute: the component present in smaller amounts (the "dissolvee")