What Does Supersaturated Mean?

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Supersaturated is something that you can better understand if you consider an example. Find out what supersaturated means with help from a chemistry professional in this free video clip.

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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Robin Higgins and this is what does super saturated mean. Okay, so if we are going to define super saturated, let's first define saturated. So, let's say I have a glass of water. Okay, so now I'm going to start adding salt to that water. Now at first, when you put it in and you stir, it's going to completely dissolve and you can actually add a lot of salt to water but eventually if you keep on adding, there's going to reach a point where no matter how much you stir, you are going to start seeing little salt crystals on the bottom and now when you start seeing this no matter how much you stir or what you do, you still see salt crystals that can't go into solution, this is a saturation point and actually it's right before you see anything. So you see the first salt crystal and then you get rid of that one salt crystal so there's nothing, that's your saturation point. So that means that your solution is saturated. Now, what does super saturated mean? Well, let's say we took our saturated solution that has, see this one is saturated, and we now started heating it up. Now when you heat a substance, the solubility of the solute goes up because there is more energy for the molecules to mix with each other and the heat really adds solubility. So let's say now you are heating it under a flame, I need to learn how to draw flames, and now you can dump more and more salt in. So you are not super saturated yet because there's a different saturation point for every different temperature but let's say now you take this hot salty water and you remove the flame and you just let it sit there and you let it cool slowly. Well, with some substances, you won't start seeing salt reform, it will just stay in solution and when it comes all the way down to room temperature, maybe you are able to fit in three or four more spoonfuls of salt that haven't crashed out. So if you did them just the regular stirring technique you would see a bunch of salt on the bottom but because you slowly heated it up and then slowly let it cool down, it stays in there. Now that is super saturated. When you have passed the point that you can normally get into your liquid through kind of trickery and so some cool things about this is that if you take your super saturated cup of salty water and you add one little granule of salt and let it hit the surface, it will act as a seed like a catalyst and all of a sudden all the salt will spread on the top and it will create a little layer because it all crashes out at once. And this process is actually how you form rock candy except obviously it's with sugar. That would be some gross rock candy. And by doing super saturation and then getting it to all crystallize out. Alright, I'm Robin Higgins and this is what does super saturated mean.


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