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Non-electrolyte- a compound that will dissolve in water to form a solution that does NOT conduct electricity due to ions not being produced. Examples- Sugar C12H22O11 and alcohol CH3OH.

Electrolyte- a compound that will dissolve in water to form a solution that will conduct electricity due to the presence of free ions.

Solubility Guidelines (ions that dissolve)

Ionization-an atom or molecules that acquires a charge by either gaining or losing one or more electrons

Dissociation-When an ionic compound breaks up into its ions

Strong Electrolytes-Completely ionizes (or dissociates) when dissolved in water. Classes of strong electrolytes include strong acids, strong bases and soluble salts. Some other ionic solids are CaCl2, NH4Cl, KBr, CuSO4, NaCH3COO (sodium acetate), CaCO3, NaHCO3 (baking soda).

Strong Acids    HA(aq) → H+(aq) + A(aq)


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Weak Electrolytes-an electrolyte that gives a low percentage yield of ions when dissolved in water. For example, ammonia, NH4OH, carbonic acid, H2CO3, acetic acid, CH3COOH, and most organic acids and bases are weak electrolytes.

Strength of Electrolytes and Equilibrium Constants- Generally Speaking- Strong Electrolytes have very large K values. Weak electrolytes will have very small K values.


Past Regents Questions on Electrolytes

Jan 2011-26 Which compound is an electrolyte?
(1) butene      (3) dimethyl ether
(2) propane   (4) methanoic acid

Jun 2010-48 Which laboratory test result can be used to determine if KCl(s) is an electrolyte?
(1) pH of KCl(aq)
(2) pH of KCl(s)
(3) electrical conductivity of KCl(aq)
(4) electrical conductivity of KCl(s)

Aug 2009-27 Which substance is an electrolyte?
(1) CCl4    (3) HCl
(2) C2H6   (4) H2O

Jan 2007-13 Which substance, when dissolved in water, forms a solution that conducts an electric current?
(1) C2H5OH     (3) C12H22O11
(2) C6H12O6     (4) CH3COOH

June 2006-25 Which substance is an electrolyte?
(1) CH3OH     (3) H2O
(2) C6H12O6   (4) KOH

Jan 2006-38 A solid substance was tested in the laboratory.
The test results are listed below.
• dissolves in water
• is an electrolyte
• melts at a high temperature
Based on these results, the solid substance could be
(1) Cu               (3) C
(2) CuBr2          (4) C6H12O6

June 2005-27 Which formula represents an electrolyte?
(1) CH3OCH3     (3) CH3COOH
(2) CH3OH         (4) C2H5CHO

Jan 2005-25 The compound HNO3 can be described as an
(1) Arrhenius acid and an electrolyte
(2) Arrhenius acid and a nonelectrolyte
(3) Arrhenius base and an electrolyte
(4) Arrhenius base and a nonelectrolyte

Jan 2004-27 Which compound is an electrolyte?
(1) C6H12O6    (3) CaCl2
(2) CH3OH      (4) CCl4

June 2003-29 Which 0.1 M solution contains an electrolyte?

(1) C6H12O6 (aq)       (3) CH3 OH(aq)
(2) CH3 COOH(aq)    (4) CH3 OCH3 (aq)

Aug 2003-9. Based on Reference Table F, which of these salts is the best electrolyte?

A. sodium nitrate
B. magnesium carbonate
C. silver chloride
D. barium sulfate

June 2002-23 A substance that conducts an electrical current when dissolved in water is

(1) a catalyst          (3) a nonelectrolyte
(2) a metalloid        (4) an electrolyte




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