The solution is defined as a homogeneous mixture comprising of two or more substances. In a solution, the substance that is dissolved is termed as a solute and the substance in which it is dissolved is termed as a solvent. The solvent comprises the major part of the system and thus the solution takes on its characteristics including its phase but some of the characteristics depend upon the nature of the solute particles that are added. As we have observed, some of these solutions conduct electricity such as salt solution, acid solution etc. while others such as sugar solution don’t. These ionic solutions are used for the conduction of electricity or as electrolytes in electrolytic cells. Thus it is important to know the nature of equilibrium in such solutions. In this section, we will learn about the ionic equilibrium in ionic solutions.
Substances can be classified into two categories on the basis of their ability to conduct electricity given as under,
Non-electrolytes: These are substances that consist of molecules that bear no electric charge, do not dissociate into their constituent ions and thus do not conduct electricity in their aqueous solution or molten state. For example sugar solution.
Electrolytes: These are substances that dissociate into their constituent ions in their aqueous solution and thus conduct electricity in their aqueous solutions or molten state. Example, salt solution, acid solution, base solution etc.
A further classification of the electrolytes can be done into strong and weak electrolytes. Strong electrolytes are substances that upon dissociation in their ionic solution ionize completely while in the case of weak electrolytes, the dissociation is partial in nature. For example, NaCl undergoes complete ionization in its aqueous solution to render sodium ions (Na+) and chloride (Cl–) ions, whereas, acetic acid undergoes partial ionization to render some amount of acetate ions(CH3COO–) and hydrogen(H+) ions.
In case of a strong electrolyte, the dissociation reaction is said to be complete, thus moving in the forward direction only, whereas, in case of a weak electrolyte, the reaction is said to be reversible in nature.
In case of the weak electrolyte, the equilibrium is established between the ions and the unionized molecules, which can be termed as ionic equilibrium. The same can be understood with the following example.
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