Disresolving salt in water might be taken into consideration a chemical readjust or a physical change. If you’re required to pick a side, many chemists say disresolving a covalent compound (prefer sugar) is a physical change, however dissolving an ionic compound (prefer salt) is a chemical adjust.

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Is disfixing table salt (sodium chloride or NaCl) a chemical readjust or a physical change? This is a prevalent general chemisattempt question. The trouble is that the answer is debated. Here are valid debates for both answers.

Many kind of chemists take into consideration disfixing salt (or any kind of ionic solid) to be a chemical change. Disaddressing sugar (or any type of covalent solid) is a physical change.

Why Disaddressing Salt Is a Chemical Change

A chemical readjust involves a chemical reactivity and also the development of new products. Dissolving salt in water may be composed as a chemical reactivity, where sodium chloride dissociates into Na+ions and Cl–ions in water.

NaCl(s) → Na+(aq) + Cl–(aq)

When salt dissolves, the ionic bonds between the atoms break. The reactant (sodium chloride or NaCl) differs from the products (sodium and chloride ions), so a chemical readjust occurs. The exact same reaction occurs once various other ionic compounds dissolve in water. To generalize: Dissolving an ionic compound is a chemical adjust. In comparison, disfixing sugar or one more covalent compound is a physical change because chemical bonds are not broken and also new commodities are not created. If you disresolve sugar in water, you acquire sugar molecules in water.

Why Disaddressing Salt in Water Is a Physical Change

A physical readjust involves a readjust in a physical residential or commercial property, but not a readjust in chemical complace. Instances incorporate changes in states of matter or alterations to crystal framework.

Dissolving salt in water might be taken into consideration a physical change because no readjust occurs in the electron shells of the sodium and also chlorine atoms and also no chemical reaction occurs between sodium chloride and also its solvent (water). In contrast, if you disresolve salt in acetic acid (CH₃COOH), you obtain sodium ethanoate (CH3COONa) and hydrochloric acid (HCl).

Sometimes the factor offered for saying dissolving salt is a physical readjust is that the procedure is reversible. If you rerelocate the water, you recover salt. The problem is that many chemical alters are reversible. For example, weak acids and weak bases typically participate in reversible reactions that eventually reach equilibrium. Mixing carbonic acid in water is an example:H2CO3 (l)+ H2O(l)⇌ HCO3−(aq)+ H3O+(aq).

On the other hand, many kind of physical transforms are not reversible. For example, you can’t put a sheet of paper earlier together aget after you shred it.

Teaching Considerations

On the one hand, stating whether disaddressing sugar and salt are chemical or physical alters is a great method to obtain students reasoning about transforms in matter. It’s an possibility to talk about just how you recognize whether a chemical reactivity has actually developed. On the other hand also, every one of the indicators of a chemical adjust (temperature adjust, shade change, odor, bubbles, precipitate formation) take place with some physical alters.

If a student is asked whether dissolving salt is a chemical change or a physical change, some instructors consider it unfair to note either answer incorrect, providing the student deserve to define the answer. Other teachers feel strongly around the answer. In this instance, it’s crucial to convey expectations to the course prior to homework-related or an exam.

But, what carry out you think? Feel free to post a comment.


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

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