30 votes

Why is fresh ice sticky?

Whether or not the ice cube will adhere to something is dependent on the temperature of the ice, the state of the surface of the ice, and the moisture content of the material. The temperature of an ...
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24 votes
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A drop of water in a tin of sugar: Which one's the solvent, the sugar or the water?

You could imagine stirring the sugar enough for the water molecules to be uniformly distributed throughout - it would then be homogeneous. However, even then, to refer to the mixture as a solution ...
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  • 802
20 votes
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Why is water "the universal" solvent?

To directly address where the phrase comes from: Water is called the "universal solvent" because it dissolves more substances than any other liquid. -USGS What are ideal qualities of solvent? The ...
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  • 4,395
20 votes

Why is water "the universal" solvent?

TL;DR: Water is incredibly easy to get and work with. In full Water is a good solvent for polar compounds[citation needed], and the reasons for this are laid out pretty well by John Snow, but that's ...
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20 votes
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Can a solvent be a solid?

When most people think of the term solvent, a liquid medium comes to mind; however, in the technical sense of the definition, this does not have to be the case. Here is the definition of a solution ...
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  • 1,809
19 votes
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How are solvents chosen in organic reactions?

There is no list per se, but there is certainly a process to determine appropriate solvents for a given reaction. For the specific reaction you mention, here are some criteria you would consider to ...
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  • 334
17 votes

A drop of water in a tin of sugar: Which one's the solvent, the sugar or the water?

Both answers are right. In the IUPAC Gold Book it states A liquid or solid phase containing more than one substance, when for convenience one (or more) substance, which is called the solvent, is ...
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16 votes

Why is water "the universal" solvent?

Just to provide an alternative answer: Consider a solvent miscibility table like the one linked. What is the least miscibile solvent? Water! Water is the worst solvent. Water is immiscible with 17 ...
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16 votes
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Is it possible for a compound to be soluble in a mixture of solvents but not the individual solvents?

The short answer is: yes, this is possible. Unfortunately, solubility is a fairly complex phenomenon to explain simply. Let's start with some examples where solubility is higher in a binary mixture ...
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15 votes
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Why do soft drinks fizz?

Because $\ce{CO_2}$ isn't exactly what's being dissolved. When it encounters water, it immediately encounters the following potential reaction: $$\ce{CO2~(g) + H2O~(l) <=> H2CO3~(aq)}$$ Carbon ...
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14 votes
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Why do NMR samples require a solvent?

There is a minimal volume you need to fill into the NMR tube to be able to get a good shim, this is around 500 microliters with regular 5mm tubes. Not using a solvent would require a lot more of your ...
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14 votes

How are solvents chosen in organic reactions?

I did organic chemistry in the lab for 9 years, and never once was there such a list. There are general rules for protic vs. aprotic and polar vs. non-polar, but a lot of times, when a reaction is ...
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14 votes
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Why isn't a polar protic solvent used in the Finkelstein reaction?

The key point is driving the equilibrium where you want it. You could do it by relative reaction rates. The Finkelstein reaction, however, uses a better method: precipitation of one of the products. ...
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12 votes

How are solvents chosen in organic reactions?

If you consider YANR (your average name reaction), the scientists who published said YANR will typically have done a set of screenings, including a ‘solvent screen’. That means, they will have run ...
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11 votes
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Why do some solvents bubble more than others when boiling?

Boiling depends on certain properties of a solvent: Tendency to form an emulsion of bubbles due to low surface tension and separation of solvent phases, as in soap bubbles. Try boiling some dish-...
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10 votes
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How could alcohol be made into a powder?

Cyclodextrins, which comprise a class of cyclic carbohydrates, use their properties of being hydrophobic within their ring(s), yet hydrophilic outside. Alcohol can be put inside these rings. Then, the ...
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  • 1,516
10 votes

Why is water "the universal" solvent?

It's worth noting some of the history behind the term "universal solvent," and why it is used even though water isn't truly universal or even necessarily the most versatile solvent available. Before ...
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  • 347
10 votes

Why do NMR samples require a solvent?

Just to add some clarity to some already acceptable answers by others.... For running solution (liquid) state NMR, a solvent is not necessary. There are a number of applications where dilution with a ...
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9 votes

Solving carbon black

By far the safest solution is to physically abrade the surface until you have worn away everything that isn't copper. This is slow and requires some sort of grinding agent but has the upside that you ...
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9 votes

Halogenation of Phenol

The reaction of phenol with bromine is known as bromination of phenol. Solvent has great influence on the reaction. In different solvents, different products are obtained. The action of bromine on ...
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  • 312
8 votes

Why is fresh ice sticky?

What is the cause of this adhesion? I propose a slightly different hypothesis from ringo. As opposed to the very cold ice freezing water in the material, I would presume the material to initially be ...
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8 votes
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Electrical conductivity of organic solvents

Ethanol and methanol dissociate into ions, just as water does. For water: $$\ce{2 H2O <=> H3O+ + OH-}$$ For an alcohol $\ce{ROH}$: $$\ce{2 ROH <=> ROH2+ + ^-OR}$$ For water the self-...
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8 votes
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How to reverse damage done by nail polish remover without acetone to a laptop keyboard?

The solvent appears not only to have removed paint on the keys but also to have caused solvent crazing in the plastic itself. Regrettably, there is probably not much that can be done to actually ...
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8 votes
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How to prevent dripping when using a Pasteur pipette with solvents like diethyl ether?

Usually I avoid pipetting diethyl ether because it can be a bit annoying, but recently I've realized there is a very simple technique which markedly increases ease of transfer (though admittedly I've ...
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8 votes
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Why is chloroform kept in dark coloured bottles?

In the presence of UV light, chloroform can be oxidized by atmospheric oxygen to phosgene ($\ce{COCl2}$), a toxic gas. The dark colored glass blocks UV light so that phosgene is not produced.
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  • 380
8 votes

A drop of water in a tin of sugar: Which one's the solvent, the sugar or the water?

The question is flawed since we do not know whether the resulting mixture consists of a single phase or not (I guess that there are two phases). Moreover, the definition solute + solvent = ...
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  • 6,755
8 votes
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For what reasons, is isopropyl alcohol widely used as a cleaning solvent?

From this Wikipedia article Isopropyl alcohol dissolves a wide range of non-polar compounds. It also evaporates quickly, leaves nearly zero oil traces, compared to ethanol, and is relatively non-...
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8 votes
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Why Benzene is a good solvent even while it is not polar

Benzene is a good solvent for many organic compounds, the term good solvent to me does not mean a nice solvent with a good all round profile. To me the perfect solvent would be non toxic, not ...
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