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ChemWiki: The Dynamic Chemistry E-textbook > Development Details > Approaches > Demos > Additional Demos > Salt Solutions Concentration Gradient

Salt Solutions Concentration Gradient

Chemical Concepts Demonstrated

  • Density
  • Concentration

Demonstration

  • A beaker filled with 4 different concentrations of salt solutions (each differently colored): saturated, 70% saturated, 35% saturated, and water
  • Different grades of plastic were added.
saltsol.gif

Observations

The more dense plastics sink and the less dense plastics float to various layers.

Explanation

Density is defined as the mass per volume of any given substance.  The plastics have various densities because of their molecular structures, and the solutions have differing densities because of the salt concentrations they contain.  Salt water is more dense than pure water because the salt in it contributes to the mass of the entire solution.  Given equal parts salt water and pure water, the salt water will be more massive; therefore, salt water is more dense than pure water.

A solid will only float in a liquid if it is less dense than a liquid.  The less dense the plastic is, the higher up the tiered column it goes.   Each piece floats on top of the least dense layer that can still support it.

A liquid will only float on top of a liquid if it is less dense than the liquid.  The colored tiers of the beaker show this.

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Last Modified
10:29, 2 Oct 2013

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