Skip to main content
Chemistry LibreTexts

16: Solubility and Precipitation Equilibria

  • Page ID
    41493
  • Solubility equilibrium is a type of dynamic equilibrium. It exists when a chemical compound in the solid state is in chemical equilibrium with a solution of that compound. The solid may dissolve unchanged, with dissociation or with chemical reaction with another constituent of the solvent, such as acid or alkali. Each type of equilibrium is characterized by a temperature-dependent equilibrium constant. Solubility equilibria are important in pharmaceutical, environmental and many other scenarios.
    • 16.1: The Nature of Solubility Equilibria
      Dissolution of a salt in water is a chemical process that is governed by the same laws of chemical equilibrium that apply to any other reaction. There are, however, a number of special aspects of of these equilibria that set them somewhat apart from the more general ones that are covered in the lesson set devoted specifically to chemical equilibrium. These include such topics as the common ion effect, the influence of pH on solubility, and supersaturation.
    • 16.2: Ionic Equilibria between Solids and Solutions
      We begin our discussion of solubility and complexation equilibria—those associated with the formation of complex ions—by developing quantitative methods for describing dissolution and precipitation reactions of ionic compounds in aqueous solution. Just as with acid–base equilibria, we can describe the concentrations of ions in equilibrium with an ionic solid using an equilibrium constant expression.
    • 16.3: Precipitation and the Solubility Product
      Precipitation reactions occur when cations and anions in aqueous solution combine to form an insoluble ionic solid called a precipitate. Whether or not such a reaction occurs can be determined by using the solubility rules for common ionic solids. Because not all aqueous reactions form precipitates, one must consult the solubility rules before determining the state of the products and writing a net ionic equation.
    • 16.4: The Effects of pH on Solubility
      The solubility of many compounds depends strongly on the pH of the solution. For example, the anion in many sparingly soluble salts is the conjugate base of a weak acid that may become protonated in solution. In addition, the solubility of simple binary compounds such as oxides and sulfides, both strong bases, is often dependent on pH. In this section, we discuss the relationship between the solubility of these classes of compounds and pH.
    • 16.5: Complex Ions and Solubility
      The formation of complex ions can substantially increase the solubility of sparingly soluble salts if the complex ion has a large Kf. A complex ion is a species formed between a central metal ion and one or more surrounding ligands, molecules or ions that contain at least one lone pair of electrons. Small, highly charged metal ions have the greatest tendency to act as Lewis acids and form complex ions. The equilibrium constant for the formation of the complex ion is the formation constant (Kf).
    • 16.6: A Deeper Look: Selective Precipitation of Ions
      The composition of relatively complex mixtures of metal ions can be determined using qualitative analysis, a procedure for discovering the identity of metal ions present in the mixture. The procedure used to separate and identify more than 20 common metal cations from a single solution consists of selectively precipitating only a few kinds of metal ions at a time under given sets of conditions. Consecutive precipitation steps become progressively less selective.
    • 16.E: Solubility and Precipitation (Exercises)