Electrolytes Examples

An electrolyte is something that ionizes when it's dissolved in the right ionizing solvent, such as water. These substances contain ions and can conduct electricity in the right circumstances. Most soluble salts, acids, and bases are electrolytes, while some gases under the right conditions can act as electrolytes. Most people know electrolytes to be the mineral substances in the body's bloodstream that carry an electrical charge, but that's not the only chemical definition or use for them. However, much of the purpose of electrolytes are tied to maintaining balance and charge neutrality in the body's cells. All higher life forms require electrolytes to function.
Examples of Electrolytes:

1. Sports Drinks

Most people have heard about the need for electrolytes when working out or doing some other kind of strenuous physical activity. Sports drinks were invented to replace electrolytes that the body lost through sweat. One of the first sports drinks ever made was Gatorade, named after the mascot at the university where it was developed, the University of Florida. Gatorade was basically a chemically balanced salt water drink, which didn't taste very appealing and was hard for athletes to drink. The researchers at the school's sports science lab added sugar and flavoring in controlled amounts to make it more palatable, and the result was a very competitive edge over opponents who came to the hot, humid environment of the school's Florida campus.

2. Ocean Water

The main saltiness of the oceans' water comes from sodium chloride. This salt, which is literally the same chemical compound that makes up the table salt we sprinkle on food, is an electrolyte that is dissolved in seawater. This electrolyte is responsible for conducting heat and electricity in the water, and gives ocean water its unique density and low freezing point properties.

3. Sodium hydroxide

Sodium hydroxide, which is also known as lye, is a strong base and therefore has historically been an important ingredient in many strong household cleaners. These products includelaundry detergents and soaps, and even stronger products like drain cleaners. This electrolyte is extremely dangerous due to its ability to break down lipids and proteins in skin, which will cause burns if not handled correctly and carefully.

4. Sulfuric acid

This very strong acid was once known as oil of vitriol, from the word for bitterness or nastiness. It's highly corrosive, and can corrode many metals, most organic compounds and living tissues, and even stone. Sulfuric acid's main industrial purpose is as an electrolyte in certain types of car batteries, due to its conductive properties that help the electricity to flow. Like sodium hydroxide and other electrolytes of its kind, it can cause extremely serious chemical burns if it touches the skin, and must be handled cautiously.

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