An electrolyte is a nonmetallic (liquid or solid) conductor that conducts current via the movement of ions (rather than electrons) with the liberation of matter at an electrochemical cell’s electrodes.
When an electrolyte is dissolved in water, it allows current to travel through the solution. Because they generate positive and negative ions when dissolved, electrolytes promote current flow. Positive ions or cations move toward the negative electrode while negative ions (anions) move toward the positive electrode as current passes through the solution.
What are the classifications of an Electrolyte?
Electrolytes are divided into two types: strong electrolytes and weak electrolytes.
1. Strong electrolytes
These are materials that dissolve entirely into ions. Table salt, sodium chloride, is the most well-known illustration of a strong electrolyte. powerful electrolytes include most salts as well as powerful acids such as hydrochloric acid, nitric acid, perchloric acid, and sulfuric acid.
Strong fluids include strong bases such as sodium hydroxide and calcium hydroxide. Despite the fact that calcium hydroxide is only slightly soluble, the compound that dissolves is fully ionized.
Also Read: What is an Electrode?
2. Weak electrolytes
These are substances that only partially dissociate into ions when dissolved in water. Weak electrolytes include weak acids like acetic acid found in vinegar and weak bases like ammonia found in cleaning goods.
Weak electrolytes can also include very barely soluble salts like mercury chloride. Ligands and their metal ions can act as poor electrolytes.
Electrolytes are not all compounds that dissolve in water. Sugar, for example, dissolves easily in water but stays as molecules rather than ions. Sugar is considered a non-electrolyte. Water ionizes minimally and is an extremely weak electrolyte.