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Examples of Electrolytes

When we add table salt that is sodium chloride in water, sodium chloride dissociate in to sodium and chloride ions in water.  Similarly when sugar is dissolved in water, it results the formation of sugar solution. Will sugar also show same behavior and dissociates into respective atoms. Answer is NO. Since sugar is a covalent molecule therefore it cannot dissociate into respective ions or atoms. In other words we can say that only ionic molecules form ions in their solutions. These ions consist of opposite charges; positive and negative therefore they can conduct electricity. Such solutions are called as electrolytic solutions and such compounds are called as electrolytes.

The presence of sodium ions (cation / carry positive charge) and chloride ions (anions / carry negative charges) are responsible for the conduction of electricity in salt solution. Covalent molecules are composed of certain atoms which are bonded with each other through covalent bonds. When covalent molecule dissolves in any of solvent, sufficient amount of energy is not available for the cleavage of covalent bonds between atoms. Therefore there will be no ion or free atom to conduct electricity. It makes the covalent molecules non-conductor or insulator of heat and electricity. Such compounds are called as non-electrolytes.  Overall electrolytes can be defined as the substances which produce ions in solution whereas non-electrolytes cannot produce ions in their solutions  

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What are Some Examples of Electrolytes?

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The chemical compounds which can break into ions in their solutions are called as electrolytes. They have positively charged ions or cations and negatively charged ions or anions in their solutions. Electrolytes can be classified as strong and weak electrolytes. Usually the conducting nature of a substances is measured in their solutions which is composed of two substances; solute; the substance being dissolved and solvent; the substance doing the dissolving. Hence solution is a homogeneous mixture of the solute and the solvent. In an aqueous solution, water is a solvent with certain solutes. Some other solvents are alcohol in tincture and mercury in amalgam. Electrolytes dissolve in water and produce a solution which can conduct an electric current. Strong electrolyte conducts current very efficiently due to large number of ions in their solution. This is because of completely ionization or dissociation in solution. Some common examples of electrolytes are soluble ionic compounds such as strong acids; nitric acid $(HNO_{3})$, sulphuric acid $(H_{2}SO_{4})$, hydrochloric acid (HCl) etc. Similarly strong bases like potassium hydroxide (KOH) and sodium hydroxide (NaOH) are also example of strong electrolytes because they show 100% ionization in their solutions.

$KOH \rightarrow K^{+} + OH^{-}$.

Weak electrolytes can conduct only a small current due to slightly ionization in their solution. Weak acids like organic acids; acetic acid, citric acid, butyric acid and malic acid are weak electrolytes. Weak base like ammonia is a weak electrolyte. Unlike electrolytes, non-electrolytes cannot conduct electricity due to absence of ions in their solution. Alcohols and sugars are non-electrolytes. 

Examples of Strong Electrolytes

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A strong electrolyte can only exist as ions in its solution.  For example ionic compounds usually exist in the form of their ions which are bonded with electrostatic force of attractions. As these compounds dissolve in water or other polar solvent, they dissociate into their respective ions which can conduct current. Strong acids, strong bases and salts are good examples of strong electrolytes. Let’s discuss few examples of strong electrolytes. The solution of table salt in water results the formation of sodium ions and chloride ions in solution. The dissociation is 100% therefore there will be no un-dissociated form of ionic molecule.
        
$NaCl(s) \xrightarrow[]{H_{2}O} Na^{+}_{(aq)} + Cl^{-}_{(aq)}$.

Remember strong electrolytes are considered to be 100% ionized but it does not mean that they will be completely soluble in water. For example; strontium hydroxide $(Sr(OH)_{2})$ is slightly soluble in water, yet it is a strong electrolyte. Hence such ionic compounds are not very much dissolves, but all that does dissolve dissociates into ions; $Sr^{2+}$ and $OH^{–}ions$. At the same time, there will be un-dissociated strontium hydroxide molecules in the solution. On the contrary, in the solution of sodium hydroxide or sodium chloride are 100% dissolve and dissociate into their solution. Hence there will be no un-dissociate molecule of these ionic compounds. Some other examples of strong electrolytes are listed below.

Strong Electrolytes


Examples of Weak Electrolytes

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Weak electrolytes partially dissociate in solution therefore produce relatively few ions. That is the reason; weak electrolytes are bad conductor of electricity.  For example; polar covalent compounds like weak acids and bases are good examples of weak electrolytes.  Ammonia, acetic acid etc cannot dissociate completely in solution.

$CH_{3}COOH_{(l)} \xrightarrow[]{H_{2}O} CH_{3}COO^{-} _{(aq)} + H^{+}_{(aq)}$.

Since weak electrolytes dissociate partially in solution therefore their solutions contain un-dissociate molecules with few ions. Some common examples of weak electrolytes are listed below;

Weak Electrolytes

Examples of Electrolytes and Nonelectrolytes

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Electrolytes can be defined as the chemical substances which dissociate completely in their solutions and form ions which conduct electricity. Unlike electrolytes, non-electrolyte substances do not dissociate or partially dissociate in their solution. Hence they cannot conduct electricity in their solutions. They are usually polar covalent substances which dissolve in water but remain as their molecules and do not dissociate. For example; Sugar ($C_{12}H_{22}O_{11}$) is a non-electrolyte and it remains in solution as usual but for aqueous solution as given below;

$C_{12}H_{22}O_{11}(s) \xrightarrow[]{H_{2}O} C_{12}H_{22}O_{11(aq)}$ 
 
Non-electrolytes do not ionize 100% in water. Fats, sugars, hydrocarbons like methane, pentane and alcohols are some other examples of non-electrolytes.
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