Strong and Weak Electrolytes

Strong, Weak, and Nonelectrolytes

Sports drinks contain electrolytes to help replenish those lost through perspiration.
Sports drinks contain electrolytes to help replenish those lost through perspiration. Stratol / Getty Images

Electrolytes are chemicals that break into ions in water. Aqueous solutions containing electrolytes conduct electricity. 

Strong Electrolytes

Sulfuric acid is a strong electrolyte.
Sulfuric acid is a strong electrolyte. MOLEKUUL/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

Strong electrolytes include the strong acids, strong bases, and salts. These chemicals completely dissociate into ions in aqueous solution.

Molecular Examples

  • HCl - hydrochloric acid
  • HBr - hydrobromic acid
  • HI - hydroiodic acid
  • NaOH - sodium hydroxide
  • Sr(OH)2 - strontium hydroxide
  • NaCl - sodium chloride

Weak Electrolytes

Ammonia is a weak electrolyte.
Ammonia is a weak electrolyte. Ben Mills

Weak electrolytes only partially break into ions in water. Weak electrolytes include weak acids, weak bases, and a variety of other compounds. Most compounds that contain nitrogen are weak electrolytes.

Molecular Examples

    • HF - hydrofluoric acid
    • CH3CO2H - acetic acid
    • NH3 - ammonia
    • H2O - water (weakly dissociates in itself)

    Nonelectrolytes

    Glucose molecule
    Glucose is a nonelectrolyte. Getty Images/PASIEKA

    Nonelectrolytes do not break into ions in water. Common examples include most carbon compounds, such as sugars, fats, and alcohols.

    Molecular Examples

    • CH3OH - methyl alcohol
    • C2H5OH - ethyl alcohol
    • C6H12O6 - glucose
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    Your Citation
    Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Strong and Weak Electrolytes." ThoughtCo, Dec. 6, 2017, thoughtco.com/strong-and-weak-electrolytes-609437. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2017, December 6). Strong and Weak Electrolytes. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/strong-and-weak-electrolytes-609437 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Strong and Weak Electrolytes." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/strong-and-weak-electrolytes-609437 (accessed January 17, 2018).