Nonelectrolyte Definition and Examples in Daily Life


Dissolving one substance into another and observing the consequent physical or chemical changes is one of the most common practices in chemistry. These changes are a result of interactions of forces among the molecules of different substances. Sometimes these interactions can result in the ionization of a solute when dissolved in a particular solvent. The substances that can dissociate into ions on dissolving in a polar solvent are known as electrolytes; however, the substances that do not yield ions on dissolution are known as non-electrolytes. Whether a solution contains a non-electrolyte or an electrolyte solute can be determined by immersing two electrodes in the solution and applying an electric potential across them. To conduct electricity, a substance must contain freely mobile, charged species. Due to the presence of ions in an electrolyte solution, it can conduct electricity, whereas, in the case of non-electrolytes, conduction is not possible due to the absence of any charge carriers. Let’s discuss a few of the examples that form non-electrolytes that one can come across in daily life.

1. Sugar


Sugar is the generic name given to a sweet-tasting carbohydrate that adds flavor to our food and can be commonly found in our kitchens. In chemistry, sugars are classified into two types: simple sugars, also known as monosaccharides, which include glucose, fructose, and galactose, and compound sugars, also known as disaccharides, which include two monosaccharides joined by a glycosidic bond. When we dissolve sugar in a polar solvent such as water, it completely dissolves, just like salt; however, unlike the saltwater, a sugar solution can not conduct electricity through it and is thus classified as a nonelectrolyte.

2. Alcohol

Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, is an organic covalent hydrocarbon compound with the chemical formula {CH}_{3}{CH}_{2}{OH}. Most of us are familiar with a diluted solution of ethyl alcohol commonly sold by the name “liquor” in the market. When diluted with water, ethyl alcohol molecules get evenly surrounded by the water molecules; however, they do not dissociate into ions like salt because of covalent bonding. It is important to note that this is the case with most but not all covalent compounds. Organic acids such as carboxylic acid ({CH}_{3}{COOH}), formic acid ({HCOOH}), etc., can dissociate into corresponding ions, and therefore, these are classified as electrolytes.

Add Comment