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A solvent (from the Latin , "I loosen, untie, I solve") is a substance that dissolves a solute (a chemically distinct liquid, solid or gas), resulting in a solution. A solvent is usually a liquid but can also be a solid or a gas. The quantity of solute that can dissolve in a specific volume of solvent varies with temperature. Common uses for organic solvents are in dry cleaning (e.g., tetrachloroethylene), as paint thinners (e.g., toluene, turpentine), as nail polish removers and glue solvents (acetone, methyl acetate, ethyl acetate), in spot removers (e.g., hexane, petrol ether), in detergents (citrus terpenes) and in perfumes (ethanol). Water is a solvent for polar molecules and the most common solvent used by living things; all the ions and proteins in a cell are dissolved in water within a cell. Solvents find various applications in chemical, pharmaceutical, oil, and gas industries, including in chemical syntheses and purification processes.
When one substance is dissolved into another, a solution is formed. This is opposed to the situation when the compounds are insoluble like sand in water. In a solution, all of the ingredients are uniformly distributed at a molecular level and no residue remains. A solvent-solute mixture consists of a single phase with all solute molecules occurring as solvates (solvent-solute complexes), as opposed to separate continuous phases as in suspensions, emulsions and other types of non-solution mixtures. The ability of one compound to be dissolved in another is known as solubility; if this occurs in all proportions, it is called miscible.
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