Chemistry Question #3984

Garry McKay, a 49 year old male from Melbourne asks on November 6, 2007,

I've a question about solublity, water, and cyclohexanone. Water has a certain solubility in cyclohexanone, and cyclohexanone has a certain (different) solubility in water. If you have a mix of water and cyclohexanone in a jar so that you have both phases present in the jar, and you add salt to the water the solubility of the cyclohexanone in the water will decrease. Does the amount of water in the cyclohexanone phase also decrease?

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The answer

David Harrington answered on November 9, 2007

In general, once you add salt the solubility of everything changes. In this case, we can guess that the water will have strong attractions to the ions of the salt, and so it will prefer the aqueous phase more than it did, and (if we have a fixed amount of water) there will be less water in the cyclohexanone phase. This is because there is a competition between the two phases for the water and the aqueous phase will win.

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