Water is found in almost every nook and cranny on the planet. It is what shapes organic life. It is the driving force behind the weather, and it is responsible for carving out mountains and our vast oceans.
Since water is such a big part of our lives, it is only natural to think about whether water is a compound or a mixture? What was the first answer that popped into your head?
Read on to find out if your answer was right!
- What Is a Compound?
- What Is a Mixture?
- Is Water a Compound or a Mixture?
- Concluding Remarks
What Is a Compound?
In chemistry, compounds are a result of chemical bonding between two or more elements. It is always a consequence of a chemical reaction. These elements are combined in a fixed ratio to create a compound. Additionally, the chemical bonds that bind the elements together tend to vary.
A compound does not have the same properties as its constituting elements. It gains new properties. Since it is the result of a chemical reaction, only chemical techniques can be used to separate the individual elements of a compound. It is not possible to physically separate the elements.
Compounds also have different melting and boiling points as opposed to their constituting elements. Compounds are viewed as pure substances.
What Is a Mixture?
In chemistry, a mixture is a combination of two or more kinds of substances without any chemical bonding. It is the result of a mechanical blending of substances like elements or compounds. It does not require a fixed ratio of components.
Unlike compounds, components within mixtures retain their unique properties. Each component holds on to its chemical identity since no chemical reaction has taken place. Since a mixture was formed through mechanical blending, it is possible to physically separate the components of the mixture.
Additionally, they do not have any fixed melting and boiling points. Depending upon their components, they are classified into homogeneous and heterogeneous mixtures.
As opposed to compounds, mixtures are viewed as impure substances.
Is Water a Compound or a Mixture?
Water is a tasteless, odorless, and mostly colorless substance. It is a major constituent in Earth’s hydrosphere, and it is a vital substance for all living organisms.
There are several states of existence for water. It can exist as precipitation, snow and ice, steam, and a major part of oceans and seas. These states in chemistry are known as gas, solid, and liquid.
This seemingly simple substance plays a vital role in our everyday lives. Did you know that approximately 60% of your body is made up of water?
Water holds the title of a universal solvent because it can dissolve just about any substance. It is considered to be an inorganic compound.
What Makes Water a Compound?
A compound is formed when two or more elements bond chemically in a fixed ratio by mass. If you break down the chemical formula of water, each molecule contains one atom of oxygen bonded to two atoms of hydrogen.
Thus, by definition of a compound, water is a compound itself. It can also be considered a molecule since several atoms are bonded together through chemical means.
Let’s review what makes water a compound in further detail.
Water is composed of two elements in a fixed ratio—one atom of oxygen with two atoms of hydrogen. No other ratio of elements will give you the chemical substance of water. Any variation such as increasing the ratio of oxygen to two would result in an entirely different chemical substance, namely, hydrogen peroxide.
Since the elements were chemically bonded together, they cannot be separated via any physical means. In order to separate the elements of water, the process of electrolysis needs to be used. This process uses an electrical current to break down the water molecules into the elements of hydrogen and oxygen.
A compound has different properties as opposed to its constituting elements. This is true for water. Water has completely new properties in contrast to oxygen and hydrogen. Oxygen and hydrogen by themselves are gaseous elements. However, when bonded together in fixed ratios, they form a liquid compound.
Another feature of a compound is that they have fixed boiling and melting points. Water has a fixed boiling point of 100 °C at sea level.
What Disqualifies Water as a Mixture?
A mixture is a physical blend of two or more substances. For example, if you mix rice and sand, it forms a mixture. No chemical reactions took place to form this mixture. Each substance retains its own properties. The mixture does not gain any new properties.
If you were to pass the rice and sand mixture through a sieve, you could easily separate the two without requiring any chemical intervention. Furthermore, to create the mixture, you do not necessarily require any fixed ratio of substances. You can mix any ratio of sand and rice to get a mixture.
None of the above statements ring true for water. Water is a result of a chemical reaction between a fixed ratio of elements, unlike the rice and sand mixture.
Therefore, water does not qualify as a mixture. It belongs in the category of a compound.
However, you might be wondering what does a combination of a compound like water with another substance result in? The answer is simple and rather obvious.
If you combine water with a substance such as sugar, you get a mixture. If no heat was applied, no chemical reaction was underway. In this case, the two constituents can be separated through physical means such as evaporation since no new bonds were formed.
To summarize, water is a compound. It is formed when two elements (oxygen and hydrogen) join together in fixed proportions during a chemical reaction.
Water, as a compound, cannot be split into its constituting elements through any physical means. It requires chemical methods of separation such as electrolysis to separate into oxygen and hydrogen.
Furthermore, oxygen and hydrogen have their own unique properties as separate elements. However, once combined to form water, they lose their identity. The newly formed compound exhibits different properties.
All the above justify water as a compound rather than a mixture.