Water site headerMasthead Island, Great Barrier Reef Print-me keygo to Water Visitor Book contributions
Go to my page Water Structure and Science

Glacier iceberg: pure water

Glacier ice floating

Pure water and solubility

Water is difficult to purify s it dissolves many materials.


V Pure water

V Hydrophobicity

V Solubility; organic; inorganic

< Ion-pairs

< Moles, molarity, and molality


Water is often called a 'Universal solvent'     

Pure water

Water may be purified by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis, and carbon filtering [3067], It is very difficult to obtain really pure water (for example, < 5 ng g-1 solute; also even 'pure' water contains tiny dust particles, colony forming units (CFU) and nanobubbles. Nanobubbles may be removed by extensive degassing by freeze-thaw cycling under reduced pressure or helium washing [1825]. Fine dust and nanoparticles are difficult to remove but it is possible using several distillations in wax coated vessels (not naked glass or silica as they release fine particles). Ultra-pure water has >18.0 MΩ-cm resistivity, < 5.0 ng g-1 total organic carbon (TOC), < 5.0 CFU ml-1. The purest water is for use in manufacturing semiconductors. Typical general laboratory 'pure' water has >10.0 MΩ-cm resistivity, < 50 ng g-1 total organic carbon (TOC), < 50 CFU ml-1. Ultra-pure water may contain 12C, 14N, 16O, 40Ar, 12CmHn, and 14N mH n from atmospheric gasses plus Na, Mg, Cl, Ca, Cr, Fe, Ge, Br, Sb, Ag, and I as detected by ICP-MS [3068]. Care should be taken on storage as ions may leach from glass or polypropylene. For a review of aqueous solubility prediction, see [744.

 

Note that (hexagonal) ice, in contrast to liquid water, is a very poor solvent and this may be made use of when purifying water (for example, degassing) using successive freeze-thaw cycles.

[Back to Top to top of page]

Hydrophobicity

An important factor in the solubility of organic molecules is their hydrophobicity. Compounds with lower polarity (i.e. greater hydrophobicity) are less able to disrupt the structure of the water molecules. The best measure of polarity is the logarithm of the partition coefficient (LogP) of the organic molecule between n-octanol and water [3073]; the higher the LogP, the more hydrophobic (non-polar) is the compound.

 LogP = Log10(concentration in octanol/concentration in water)

 

LogP values of some organic compounds

Compound

 LogP

Compound

 LogP

Butanone

< 0.3

1,1,1-trichloroethane

2.8

Ethyl acetate

0.7

Carbon tetrachloride

2.8

Butanol

0.8

Dibutyl ether

2.9

Diethyl ether

0.8

Cyclohexane

3.1

Methylene chloride

1.4

Hexane

3.5

Butyl acetate

1.7

Petroleum ether (60-80)

3.5

Di-isopropyl ether

2.0

Petroleum ether (80-100)

3.8

Benzene

2.0

Dipentyl ether

3.9

Chloroform

2.2

Heptane

4.0

Tetrachloroethylene

2.3

Petroleum ether (100-120)

4.3

Toluene

2.7

Hexadecane

8.7

 

LogP values increase by about 0.52 for every methylene group (-CH2-) added in a homologous series. Thus, the LogP of hexanol is that of butanol (0.8) plus 2 ˣ 0.52 (i.e. approximately 1.8).

 

[Back to Top to top of page]


Solubility of solids

The excellent solvent properties of water, together with its non-toxic nature, make water a preferred solvent for many chemical reactions [1566]. Aqueous solubility is determined by a number of factors: (1) the crystallinity of the solute, (2) the interactions between the solute and water, (3) any ionization, dissociation and stability issues, (4) the temperature and (5) the ionic strength and cosolutes. Hydrophilic organic compounds containing several oxygen atoms and/or nitrogen atoms are generally soluble in water, particularly if they possess positive and/or negative charges. This is due to their strong interactions with water molecules.

 

Organic compounds

 

The solubility of organic molecules may be estimated from the general solubility equation [3078].,

 

logS = 0.5 - 0.01 ˣ (MPt - 25) - LogP

 

where S is the molar aqueous solubility, MPt is the melting point in °C, and LogP is derived from the octanol-water partition coefficient of the solute [3077]. If MPt < 25 °C, the term (MPt - 25) is set to zero. This equation can also be used for weak acids (so long as pKa + logS ≤ 0) and bases (so long as pKa - logS ≤ 14). This covers most weak electrolytes [3079].

 

Often, changes to the solubility of a pharmaceutical are of real benefit; particularly to allow dissolution of the targeted dose. The general solubility equation can be used together with the known changes in LogP and MPt with small structural changes to predict the most useful changes in the structure required [3074].

 

Inorganic salts and common ion effects

 

Inorganic salts are often classified as soluble, sparingly soluble or insoluble, although all are soluble in water to some extent, even if it may be very small. There are no strict limits over the solubility nomenclature but, generally, soluble salts have solubilities above about 0.1 M whereas insoluble salts have solubilities below about 1 mM.

 

The solubility product (Ksp) is the product of the molar concentrations of the ions in a saturated solution. It depends on the crystal structure of the undissolved salt. Due to the common ion effect, increasing the anion concentration will reduce the cation concentration and vice versa. As an example, the Ksp of iron(III) hydroxide Fe(OH)3 is 2.79 ˣ 10-39 M4 = [Fe3+] ˣ [OH-] ˣ [OH-] ˣ [OH-] and that of iron(II) hydroxide Fe(OH)2 is 1.4 ˣ 10-15 M3 = [Fe2+] ˣ [OH-] ˣ [OH-]. Thus, the solubility depends on the pH. The cations ion-pair to hydroxide, however, with both FeOH2+(aq) 6% and Fe(OH)2+(aq) being formed.
Without considering this ion-pairing, at pH = 7 there would be 2.79 ˣ 10-18 M iron(III) or 0.14 M iron(II) in saturated solutions with the ferrous ions appearing far more soluble than the ferric ions. However, due to ion-pair formation, hydrolysis, complex ion formation, and ion-water complexes, there are only a few cases in which solubility and Ksp are related in such a simple way [3076].

 

With metal hydroxides having widely different solubilities, they can often be separated from each other by changing the pH, with one cation precipitating at a particular pH whilst the other remains in solution. Many metal hydroxides are amphoteric, with the precipitated solid hydroxides redissolving in excess hydroxide ion,

Al(OH)3 (s, ppt) + OH-(aq, pH >12) → Al(OH)4-(aq)

 

Some rules concerning inorganic salt solubilities are

 

[Back to Top to top of page]


Footnotes

a These Ksp values are from Stefan Franzen; all are at 25 °C. Generally, Ksp values may depend on the way they are determined and there are discrepancies between different sources [3076]. These values ignore any possible ion-pair formation; for example, 0.1 M FeCl3 contains only 10% Fe3+ along with a mixed solution of 42% FeCl2+, 40% FeCl2+, 6% FeOH2+, and 2% Fe(OH)2+ [3075]. See also the calcium carbonate equilibria. Ion-pair formation is particularly relevant at high concentrations. [Back]

 

 

Home | Site Index | Moles, molarity and molality | Water: Introduction | Water activity | LSBU | Top

 

This page was established in 2017 and last updated by Martin Chaplin on 12 November, 2017


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution
-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License

 

The preferred Web Browser is Mozilla Firefox