Suppose you had a bottle made of sugar glass, and filled it with water that was already saturated with sugar.

I know that with a fully saturated solution of sugar in water, no additional sugar can dissolve in the water. However, just like how a reaction in an equilibrium state simply has equal amounts of transformations between the two substances in both directions, could sugar from the water randomly precipitate and sugar from the walls of the container at those points in time dissolve into the liquid? If this process continued for long enough, the water could, hypothetically, dissolve its container and break free. My question is simply whether this could happen.

When thinking about this as a form of equilibrium, I’m reminded of the triple point of a substance—that, too, is an equilibrium, but even in equilibrium, the substance shifts between all of the states. I know these are not directly related in the sense in which I’m talking about, but it highlights what is possible for an equilibrium.

I would assume that whatever principle governs the answer to this question also applies to any substance dissolved to full saturation in any liquid, which is made into a container into which that liquid is placed.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Is is similar case as for halogen incandescent bulbs. If tungsten vapours were returned to the places from which they evaporated, it could shine eternally. But they are returned elsewhere and they eventually get the filament broken. It could take very long time for the sugar case. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Nov 15, 2022 at 5:47
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Remember also recrystalization of near unsoluble precipitates in gravimetry, like BaSO4. It has initially very small particles, partially passing paper filters. the procedure includes heating the suspension, accelerating dissolving smaller ones and growth bigger ones, what is thermodynamically preferred. Not exactly the same case, as there are very very tiny differences in solubility, but almost there. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Nov 15, 2022 at 7:47
  • $\begingroup$ Arguably, with sugar it won't take as long as with tungsten. $\endgroup$ Nov 15, 2022 at 8:08
  • $\begingroup$ @IvanNeretin I would rather agree. But hard to make time estimation and hard to test. They seldom sell bottles from sugar glass these days. "Very long" was meant absolutely, not relatively wrt a halogen bulb. $\endgroup$
    – Poutnik
    Nov 15, 2022 at 8:31
  • $\begingroup$ You picked a bad example, I think. In lieu of such speculation, you better read about supersaturation. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Nov 15, 2022 at 14:10


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.