Can a liquid which is saturated with a single solute, dissolve a different solute, or is saturation a universal thing? I ask because I’ve seen that different solutes have different points (amounts) at which they become saturated in water, for example, which caused me to think that maybe each solution was perhaps independent, even though that would produce some interesting extreme implications. Something like, take a water & sucrose mix that is saturated; can this mixture then dissolve salt?

The specific implication I am asking about is this: If I dissolve xylitol (a sugar alcohol) in water until it is saturated (200 g xylitol to 100 g water at 25 °C / 77 °F) can I then dissolve erythritol (a different sugar alcohol) into the solution?

Obviously, we could heat the liquid and enter super-saturation, but that’s not what I’m asking. I’m asking if this can be done without super-saturating (i.e. risking precipitation/crystallization) once cooled.

  • $\begingroup$ Do you know about colligative properties $\endgroup$ – DSinghvi Apr 21 '15 at 18:43
  • $\begingroup$ No, I've never heard about that. Chemistry's not my strong suit, I just figured here was the best place to ask the question. $\endgroup$ – Yurelle Apr 21 '15 at 18:51

Different solutes in the same solution indeed can affect each others' solubility. One example where this effect can be used to advantage is the "salting out" of a protein from water solution. Adding a salt (ammonium sulfate is especially good for this purpose) reduces the solubility of the protein in water, causing it to precipitate or crystallize out. Salting out can also be used to more fully separate an organic solvent from water. I imagine that in your example with the sugar alcohols, adding one component to water will reduce the solubility of the second component by a similar degree. But there may be cases where one solute increases the solubility of another.

  • $\begingroup$ "But there may be cases where one solute increases the solubility of another." Indeed, there's also Salting In for proteins, because the salt at small concentrations will increase the proteins solubility. $\endgroup$ – Molx Apr 22 '15 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ You Answered this for me 2 years ago, and I just realized that I never accepted your answer. Wow. I'm sorry man. I just did. Sorry, about that. $\endgroup$ – Yurelle Jun 8 '17 at 1:07
  • $\begingroup$ Hey, no problem. Glad you enjoy the forum! $\endgroup$ – iad22agp Jun 8 '17 at 12:16

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