Chemistry » Equilibria of Other Reaction Classes » Precipitation and Dissolution

Precipitation and Dissolution

Precipitation and Dissolution

The preservation of medical laboratory blood samples, mining of sea water for magnesium, formulation of over-the-counter medicines such as Milk of Magnesia and antacids, and treating the presence of hard water in your home’s water supply are just a few of the many tasks that involve controlling the equilibrium between a slightly soluble ionic solid and an aqueous solution of its ions.

In some cases, we want to preventdissolution from occurring. Tooth decay, for example, occurs when the calcium hydroxylapatite, which has the formula Ca5(PO4)3(OH), in our teeth dissolves. The dissolution process is aided when bacteria in our mouths feast on the sugars in our diets to produce lactic acid, which reacts with the hydroxide ions in the calcium hydroxylapatite.

Preventing the dissolution prevents the decay. On the other hand, sometimes we want a substance to dissolve. We want the calcium carbonate in a chewable antacid to dissolve because the \({\text{CO}}_{3}{}^{\text{2−}}\) ions produced in this process help soothe an upset stomach.

In this section, we will find out how we can control the dissolution of a slightly soluble ionic solid by the application of Le Châtelier’s principle. We will also learn how to use the equilibrium constant of the reaction to determine the concentration of ions present in a saturated solution.

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