Why is Salt (NaCl) Soluble in Water? [+ 3 Things to Know]

Yes, salt (NaCl) is soluble in water. Salt is soluble in water because the polar water molecules are attracted to the charged ions in the salt crystal, causing the ionic bonds to break and allowing the individual sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl-) ions to disperse and become surrounded by water molecules, resulting in a homogeneous solution. 1

Well, this was just a simple answer. But there are few more things to know about this topic which will make your concept super clear.

So let’s dive right into it.

Key Takeaways: Is Salt (NaCl) Soluble in Water?

  • Salt (NaCl) is soluble in water because of the polar nature of both the salt molecule and water molecules.
  • The solubility of salt in water can be affected by temperature, pressure, and the presence of other solutes.
  • Salt can also dissolve in other solvents besides water, such as polar organic solvents and aqueous solutions.

Explanation: Why is salt (NaCl) soluble in water?

Salt (NaCl) is soluble in water due to the polar nature of both the salt molecule and water molecules. 2 3 The positive sodium ions (Na+) and negative chloride ions (Cl-) in salt are attracted to the opposite charges of water molecules. The water molecules surround the ions, forming hydration shells, and effectively dissociate the salt into its individual ions, allowing it to dissolve.

In more detail, water is a polar molecule, meaning it has a slightly positive end (hydrogen) and a slightly negative end (oxygen). Similarly, the sodium (Na+) and chloride (Cl-) ions in salt have opposite charges. 

When salt is added to water, the water molecules attract the ions by their opposite charges. The positive end of the water molecule is attracted to the chloride ions (Cl-), while the negative end is attracted to the sodium ions (Na+). 4

The water molecules surround the ions, effectively separating them from each other and forming hydration shells. 5 This process is known as hydration or solvation.

The formation of these hydration shells allows the salt to dissolve in water, as the individual ions become surrounded by water molecules and disperse throughout the solvent.

This process is often referred to as dissociation, where the salt breaks apart into its constituent ions. 6 The dissolution of salt in water is a result of the attractive forces between the polar water molecules and the ions in the salt.

What factors affect the solubility of salt in water?

Several factors can influence the solubility of salt (NaCl) in water. These factors include temperature, pressure, and the presence of other solutes.

  • Temperature: Generally, the solubility of salt in water increases with an increase in temperature. 7 As the temperature rises, the kinetic energy of the water molecules increases, allowing them to overcome the attractive forces between the sodium and chloride ions more easily. Consequently, more salt can dissolve in water at higher temperatures. However, there are exceptions to this trend for certain salts.
  • Pressure: Unlike gases, the solubility of salt in water is not significantly affected by pressure. In most cases, changes in pressure have a negligible impact on the solubility of salt in water. 8
  • Presence of other solutes: The presence of other solutes can influence the solubility of salt in water. If another solute is already dissolved in water and shares similar ions with salt (NaCl), it can potentially decrease the solubility of salt by increasing the competition for water molecules. This phenomenon is known as the common ion effect.

Additionally, factors such as agitation (stirring) and surface area of the salt can affect the rate of dissolution, but they do not directly impact the solubility itself. 9

It’s important to note that while these factors affect the solubility of salt in water, they may have different effects on the solubility of other salts or compounds.

Can salt dissolve in other solvents besides water?

Yes, salt (NaCl) can dissolve in other solvents besides water. The solubility of salt depends on the compatibility between the ions in the salt and the solvent molecules. Substances that have a polar nature, similar to water, are typically good solvents for salt. 10 However, nonpolar solvents are generally not effective in dissolving salt.

Some examples of solvents in which salt can dissolve include:

  1. Polar organic solvents: Solvents such as ethanol, methanol, acetone, and ethylene glycol are capable of dissolving salt due to their polar nature. 11 These solvents have molecules with a positive and negative end, allowing them to interact with the sodium and chloride ions in salt.
  2. Aqueous solutions: Apart from pure water, salt can also dissolve in other aqueous solutions, such as saline solutions or brine. These solutions typically contain a high concentration of salt dissolved in water.

However, it’s worth noting that the solubility of salt in other solvents may differ from its solubility in water.

Different solvents have varying abilities to interact with the ions in salt, resulting in different solubilities. The specific solubility of salt in a particular solvent can be determined experimentally or by consulting solubility tables and reference sources.

Further reading

Is CH4 (Methane) Soluble in Water?
Why is Sugar (Sucrose) Soluble in Water?
Is BaSO4 (Barium Sulfate) Soluble in Water?
Is CaCO3 (Calcium Carbonate) Soluble in Water?
Why is Calcium Soluble in Water?

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Jay is an educator and has helped more than 100,000 students in their studies by providing simple and easy explanations on different science-related topics. He is a founder of Pediabay and is passionate about helping students through his easily digestible explanations.

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  1. Water molecules and their interaction with salt | U.S. Geological Survey. (n.d.). Water Molecules and Their Interaction With Salt | U.S. Geological Survey. https://www.usgs.gov/media/images/water-molecules-and-their-interaction-salt
  2. Hawaii.edu https://manoa.hawaii.edu/exploringourfluidearth/chemical/properties-water/types-covalent-bonds-polar-and-nonpolar
  3. Is NaCl Polar or Nonpolar? (2020, December 11). YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVXXuxq5C4g
  4. Dissociation of NaCl – American Chemical Society. (2019, December 2). American Chemical Society. https://www.acs.org/education/resources/undergraduate/chemistryincontext/interactives/water-everywhere/naci-dissociation.html
  5. Solvent properties of water (article) | Khan Academy. (n.d.). Khan Academy. https://www.khanacademy.org/science/biology/water-acids-and-bases/hydrogen-bonding-in-water/a/water-as-a-solvent
  6. Zhang, C., Giberti, F., Sevgen, E., de Pablo, J. J., Gygi, F., & Galli, G. (2020, June 16). Dissociation of salts in water under pressure. Nature Communications, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-16704-9
  7. 16.4: How Temperature Influences Solubility. (2016, June 27). Chemistry LibreTexts. https://chem.libretexts.org/Bookshelves/Introductory_Chemistry/Introductory_Chemistry_(CK-12)/16%3A_Solutions/16.04%3A_How_Temperature_Influences_Solubility
  8. Solubility. (n.d.). Solubility. https://www.chem.fsu.edu/chemlab/chm1046course/solubility.html
  9. Ntsa.org https://static.nsta.org/extras/adi-chem/Lab3StudentHandout-RateOfDissolution.pdf
  10. Sodium chloride – Wikipedia. (2021, August 23). Sodium Chloride – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_chloride
  11. Pinho, S. P., & Macedo, E. A. (2004, November 18). Solubility of NaCl, NaBr, and KCl in Water, Methanol, Ethanol, and Their Mixed Solvents. Journal of Chemical & Engineering Data, 50(1), 29–32. https://doi.org/10.1021/je049922y

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