6 junio, 2024

Empirical solutions: what they are, characteristics, types and examples

What are empirical solutions?

The empirical solutions are those where the exact amounts of solute and solvent are not defined or reproduced. The relationship between the amount of solute and the amount of solvent in these solutions is not quantitatively determined, so they have no known concentration. In other words, to prepare an empirical solution, the amounts of solute and solvent are indicative.

The empirical solution, as the word ‘empirical’ indicates, is the product of practice, of the experience of the person who prepares the solution. These solutions are also known as qualitative solutions.

Empirical solutions do not have a common application, of importance in industry or science. Empirical solutions are occasionally prepared in chemistry, as in dissolution media tests.

Characteristics of empirical solutions

Among the characteristics that can be attributed to empirical solutions are the following:

They are usually prepared in informal places, such as homes, restaurants, soda fountains, bars, among other similar spaces.
Anyone can prepare them, without specific training in chemistry, or previous experience in a laboratory.
The preparation of these solutions is done to satisfy or cover some need, generally culinary, food, among others.
During the preparation of these solutions, the experience, practice, criteria, need or taste of the person who prepares them prevails.
They are prepared without following any method of weighing, without the need to make stoichiometric calculations, or instrumental equipment; like the pH-meter, for example.
Volumetric materials are not used in their preparation, since it is not essential to have exact measurements of the volumes of liquid solvents or solutes.
Their preparation is generally infrequent in routine and research laboratories, where standardized solutions are usually required.
The empirical solutions most often prepared at home are of solutes dissolved in liquids. Liquid-in-liquid mixtures are also frequently prepared, in the preparation of cocktails, for example.

Types of empirical solutions

The classification of empirical solutions is similar to that of valued solutions when they are expressed in a qualitative or informal way. It is now clear that neither the amount of solute nor the amount of solvent in these solutions can be accurately determined.

By considering solubility and the amount of solute added to the solvent, empirical solutions can be either dilute or concentrated. Likewise, concentrated empirical solutions can also be classified as unsaturated, saturated, or supersaturated.

An instant drink can be prepared either diluted or concentrated, according to the taste or need of the diner.

diluted solution

It is that solution in which a small amount of solute has been added in relation to the amount of solvent present. The taste of the resulting solution, the color obtained, among other criteria, will indicate how diluted or concentrated the solution is. An example of this solution can be to place a little diluted sugar in a cup of water.

concentrated solution

They are those solutions that have an abundant or high amount of solute with respect to the amount of solvent in the solution. An empirical solution is concentrated by adding more solute or decreasing the volume of solvent.

unsaturated solution

It is that solution in which the amount of solute is high without reaching saturation of the solution. Therefore, still more solute can dissolve without the formation of a precipitate.

saturated solution

It is that solution in which the maximum amount of solute that the solvent can dissolve has been added. In the prepared solution no more solute will dissolve in the solvent of the solution.

supersaturated solution

It is that solution that has been prepared with an amount of solute that exceeds the limits or dissolving capacity of the solvent. Only by increasing the temperature can the solubility of the solute be increased.


As indicated in previous paragraphs, in the preparation of empirical solutions, the preferences of the person preparing the solution will prevail. The amount of solute, like the amount of solvent, will depend on personal, individual criteria and requirements.

No solute weight will be used in its preparation, and, therefore, the units of measurement are numerically non-existent.


Utensils such as spoons can be used, poured into containers that will also lack a volume indicator; glasses or jugs, or even bits added from the fingers or a quantity clenched in the fists.

Coffee, cocktails and tea

The empirical solution can contain one or more substances dissolved in a certain amount of solvent. Like a coffee, for example, in addition to water and coffee, sugar is usually added as a sweetener.

On the other hand, it can also consist of a mixture of liquids, such as cocktails, for example. Several liquors are mixed to prepare this type of empirical solution, and in the absence of metrics, the skill of preparing the same drink with the same flavor is put to the test countless times.

It can be prepared with solids such as green tea, or other spices, which impregnate the solvent with their flavor and smell. An empirical solution is prepared once this preparation is strained or passed through a sieve, leaving the solution homogeneous.

Examples of Empirical Solutions

Preparation of a cocktail: although the amounts of liquor and other substances, such as fruit juices, are indicated, the amounts will vary according to taste. Preparation of a cake: a cake can be made by mixing eggs, flour, milk and oil, in variable quantities. Coffee with milk: there are infinite shades of coffee, depending on the amount of milk or coffee used. Sauces: the quantities usually vary according to the tastes of the diners. Stews: stews can be prepared with broths or with water. Juices: depending on the amount of pulp, they will be thicker or lighter. Infusions: they are usually prepared with hot water, adding a tablespoon of the herbs. But it can be less or more. Yogurt: it is prepared by adding a cup of yogurt to warm milk. The amount of milk can be from one to three liters. Ice creams: by mixing variable amounts of fruit pulp, water or milk, and freezing it, an ice cream is obtained. Smoothies: Smoothies are made with more fruit pulp, and milk and ice are usually added. But the same thing happens: the amounts are indicative, not fixed.


Expressing Concentrations. Retrieved from chem.purdue.edu.
empirical solutions. Retrieved from roa.uveg.edu.mx.

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