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Why is water the "universal solvent"?


Water is capable of dissolving a variety of different substances, which is why it is such a good solvent. And, water is called the "universal solvent" because it dissolves more substances than any other liquid. This is important to every living thing on earth. It means that wherever water goes, either through the ground or through our bodies, it takes along valuable chemicals, minerals, and nutrients.

It is water's chemical composition and physical attributes that make it such an excellent solvent. Water molecules have a polar arrangement of the oxygen and hydrogen atoms—one side (hydrogen) has a positive electrical charge and the other side (oxygen) had a negative charge. This allows the water molecule to become attracted to many other different types of molecules. Water can become so heavily attracted to a different molecule, like salt (NaCl), that it can disrupt the attractive forces that hold the sodium and chloride in the salt molecule together and, thus, dissolve it.

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