Dissolving salt in water might be thought about a chemical change or a physics change. If you’re forced to pick a side, most chemists say dissolving a covalent link (like sugar) is a physical change, but dissolving an ionic link (like salt) is a chemistry change.

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Is dissolving table salt (sodium chloride or NaCl) a chemical adjust or a physical change? This is a typical general chemistry question. The trouble is the the price is disputed. Right here are valid disagreements for both answers.

Many chemists take into consideration dissolving salt (or any kind of ionic solid) to it is in a chemical change. Dissolving street (or any kind of covalent solid) is a physical change.

Why dissolving Salt Is a chemistry Change

A chemical readjust involves a chemistry reaction and also the formation of new products. Dissolving salt in water may be written as a chemical reaction, wherein sodium chloride dissociates right into Na+ions and Cl–ions in water.

NaCl(s) → Na+(aq) + Cl–(aq)

When salt dissolves, the ionic bonds in between the atoms break. The reactant (sodium chloride or NaCl) different from the products (sodium and also chloride ions), for this reason a chemical readjust occurs. The exact same reaction occurs once other ionic link dissolve in water. Come generalize: dissolving an ionic link is a chemical change. In contrast, dissolving sugar or an additional covalent link is a physical change because chemical bonds space not damaged and new products are not formed. If you dissolve sugar in water, you acquire sugar molecule in water.

Why dissolving Salt in Water Is a physical Change

A physical adjust involves a readjust in a physical property, yet not a readjust in chemical composition. Examples include transforms in says of matter or alterations to crystal structure.

Dissolving salt in water might be considered a physical readjust because no readjust occurs in the electron shells that the sodium and chlorine atoms and also no chemistry reaction occurs in between sodium chloride and its solvent (water). In contrast, if girlfriend dissolve salt in acetic acid (CH₃COOH), you acquire sodium ethanoate (CH3COONa) and hydrochloric mountain (HCl).

Sometimes the reason provided for speak dissolving salt is a physical change is that the procedure is reversible. If you remove the water, you recoup salt. The problem is that numerous chemical alters are reversible. Because that example, weak acids and weak bases frequently participate in reversible reactions that at some point reach equilibrium. Mixing carbonic acid in water is an example:H2CO3 (l)+ H2O(l)⇌ HCO3−(aq)+ H3O+(aq).

Meanwhile, plenty of physical alters are no reversible. For example, friend can’t put a paper of file back together again after you shred it.

Teaching Considerations

On the one hand, stating whether dissolve sugar and salt room chemical or physical changes is a good way to gain students thinking about changes in matter. It’s an possibility to talk around how you recognize whether a chemistry reaction has actually occurred. ~ above the various other hand, every one of the indicators of a chemical change (temperature change, color change, odor, bubbles, precipitate formation) take place with part physical changes.

If a college student is asked even if it is dissolving salt is a chemical readjust or a physical change, some instructors take into consideration it unfair to mark either prize incorrect, providing the student can explain the answer. Other teachers feeling strongly around the answer. In this case, it’s crucial to convey expectations to the course prior to homework or one exam.

But, what do you think? Feel totally free to write-up a comment.


Hill, john W., et al. (2004) General Chemistry (4th ed.). Prentice Hall. ISBN: 978-0131402836.Zumdahl, Steven S.; Zumdahl, Susan A. (2000).

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Chemistry (5th ed.).Houghton Mifflin.ISBN:0-395-98583-8.