This question is and I am learning about mixtures, solutions, solutes, solvents, and other terms related to these words.

I know that a solute is the substance being mixed with or dissolved into the solvent.

Substances and mixtures: are these solvents and solutes correct?

  1. coffee with milk - solvent:coffee , solute:milk
  2. salt water - solvent:water , solute:salt
  3. air freshener - solvent:air , solute:scent
  4. brass - solvent:zinc , solute:copper
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The explicit notion of a solvent/solute pair is that solvent dissolves the solute and that I can evaporate the solvent to get the solute back. There is only one of the answers that fits that description. $\endgroup$
    – MaxW
    Oct 28, 2015 at 8:32
  • $\begingroup$ @MaxW I agree but say two answers can possibly fit the description (however the second might contain a mixture of solvents and some low-boiling solutes). $\endgroup$
    – Jan
    Oct 28, 2015 at 8:35

1 Answer 1


In a binary homogeneous mixture, the component present in the larger amount is generally called the "solvent". The component present in the smaller amount is generally the "solute".

In your first example, however, it is more complicated as coffee is already a complex solution (but mainly water). Milk is not a homogeneous mixture. It is a fat/protein emulsion (also mainly water).

The other three are solutions: salt water is a solution of a solid dissolved in a liquid (which is the most familiar type), air freshener (one dispersed) is a solution of one gas in others (but air itself is a mixture), and brass is a solid solution.


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