Discovery Health "What are electrolytes?"


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** What are electrolytes? **


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1. What are electrolytes?
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*Electrolyte* is a "medical/scientific" term for salts, specifically ions.
The term electrolyte means that this ion is electrically-charged and moves
to either a *negative (cathode)* or *positive (anode) electrode*:

· ions that move to the cathode (*cations*) are positively charged
· ions that move to the anode (*anions*) are negatively charged

For example, your body fluids -- blood, plasma, interstitial fluid (fluid
between cells) -- are like seawater and have a high concentration of
*sodium chloride* (table salt, or NaCl). The electrolytes in sodium
chloride are:

· *sodium ion* (Na^+) - cation
· *chloride ion* (Cl^-) - anion

As for your body, the major electrolytes are as follows:

· sodium (Na^+)
· potassium (K^+)
· chloride (Cl^-)
· calcium (Ca^2+)
· magnesium (Mg^2+)
· bicarbonate (HCO[3]^-)
· phosphate (PO[4]^2-)
· sulfate (SO[4]^2-)

Electrolytes are important because they are what your cells (especially
nerve, heart, muscle) use to maintain voltages across their cell membranes
and to carry electrical impulses (nerve impulses, muscle contractions)
across themselves and to other cells. Your kidneys work to keep the
electrolyte concentrations


what are electrolytes

Electrolyte - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


** Electrolyte **

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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This article is about the ionic solution. For the R.E.M. song, see

An *electrolyte* is a compound that ionizes when dissolved in suitable
ionizing solvents such as water. This includes most soluble salts, acids,
and bases. Some gases, such as hydrogen chloride, under conditions of high
temperature or low pressure can also function as electrolytes. Electrolyte
solutions can also result from the dissolution of some biological (e.g.,
DNA, polypeptides) and synthetic polymers (e.g., polystyrene sulfonate),
termed polyelectrolytes, which contain charged functional groups.

Electrolyte solutions are normally formed when a salt is placed into a
solvent such as water and the individual components dissociate due to the
thermodynamic interactions between solvent and solute molecules, in a
process called solvation. For example, when table salt (sodium chloride),
NaCl, is placed in water, the salt (a solid) dissolves into its component
ions, according to the dissociation reaction

NaCl[(s)] → Na^+[(aq)] + Cl^−[(aq)]

It is also possible for substances to react with water producing ions,
e.g., carbon dioxide gas dissolves in water to produce a solution which
contains hydronium, carbonate, and hydrogen carbonate ions.

Note that molten salts can be electrolytes as well. For instance, when
sodium chloride is molten, the liquid conducts electricity.

An electrolyte in a solution may be described as concentrated if it has a
high concentration of ions, or dilute if it has a low concentration. If a
high proportion of the solute dissociates to form free ions, the
electrolyte is strong; if most of the solute does not dissociate, the
electrolyte is weak. The properties of electrolytes may be exploited using
electrolysis to extract constituent elements and compounds contained within
the solution.




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